The Ai-chan Effect

When it comes to Morning Musume, I think everyone can agree that, love her or hate her, Takahashi Ai was a big part of the group. While she’s one of my favorite members of all time (and also my mom’s favorite member XD), I’m starting to see some adverse effects of her super-prominent position while she was in the group. There are three points that I’d like to talk about: Ai-chan as MM’s leader, the image Ai-chan’s powerful vocals worked best with, and Ai-chan’s general popularity among fans.

Ai-chan as a Leader
I think that a lot of international fans, myself included, started listening to Morning Musume after Ai-chan became the leader (or, at least, she was the leader they’ve known the longest). It’s no secret that Ai-chan received a heavy portion of the lines in their singles, so I can see why others may think that the leader, if anyone, should get more lines than the other members. This, of course, isn’t how it works. Just look at the earliest MM singles: Nacchi had a huge number of solo lines while Nakazawa Yuko was in the background more often than not. Iida Kaori was never front and center with a lot of lines while she was leader (and Yasuda Kei, though she was co-leader for a time, usually had even less luck when it came to being featured). Even Yoshizawa Hitomi, though a well-loved member, was not usually a front girl during her time as leader. Now that Gaki-san is leader, I’ve seen a lot of complaints about her not being front and center in all things Morning Musume. It made sense to me, though, if Tsunku plans on bringing back MM’s old style. (I do hope she’ll have a lot more lines in her final single, though.)

Ai-chan’s Vocals and Image
Takahashi is an amazing singer. This is my opinion, but I think I share it with a lot of other people. I can easily understand why she got as many lines as she did. Ai-chan has an incredibly powerful voice, which I think works better with the more mature songs that MM was given during her leadership. While she could pull off the “cute” image just as well, I’ve always associated Ai-chan with having a “cooler” edge to her style; just look at her graduation song (and outfit). It stands to reason that, as their leader and lead girl pulls off the mature image quite nicely, the singles will take on the same tone. Though “Mikan” was well-received by international fans (from what I’ve seen), “Seishun Collection” was mostly either disliked or “just okay.” (I grew to really love it~.) “Kono Chikyuu…/Kare to Issho…” was rather well-received, it seems, but, again, “Kono Chikyuu…” was more of a powerful happy than a cutesy happy. Speaking of “cutesy happy,” “Pyoko Pyoko Ultra” (I don’t care how it’s written on the covers; I’m spelling it with a “k”) is a complete turnaround from MM’s mature image. It’s causing an awful lot of (what I deem to be unwarranted) hate for the song, and even the group itself.

Ai-chan’s Popularity
Finally, Ai-chan was super-popular. Actually, even for those who didn’t really like her, it’s hard to deny that she brought something special to the group, even if it was only her voice. It was hard not to notice her; she was a constant for the group. She had been in MM since their thirteenth single, so her absence would definitely be noticeable. Still… I hardly think the lack of Ai-chan is a good reason to abandon the group. I don’t know how many times I saw the comment, “Now that Ai-chan’s gone, I have no reason to like MM anymore. I’m moving on to ______.” (This is also relevent to any other graduation, including the S/mileage ones.) To be honest, this phrase kind of offends me. These people claim to love [insert idol name here]. Do you think said idol(s) would be especially happy to see so many people abandoning the group that they spent so much time and effort on? I certainly don’t. I’m not saying that you can’t be sad that your favorite member is leaving (Ai-chan’s graduation was hard for me, and I have a feeling that Gaki-san’s will be even worse T_T) or that you can’t dislike a single (“Pyoko Pyoko Ultra” isn’t my favorite single, but I’m not going to “move on” from the group just because of it; neither am I going to wish poor sales on it, like I’ve seen others doing); I’m just asking that you grant H!P more than a couple strikes before you leave for some other fandom.

There you are. I ended up ranting a bit, but I hope everyone understands what I’m saying. (^_^”)> Oh, and this post was in no way saying that MM died with Ai-chan; if anything, it was just a few complaints I have about the fandom. (^_^”)>

~ Surimu-chan


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