Sayashi Riho: Why Graduate?

This is a translation of the article:

Morning Musume. '15's Sayashi Riho: Why Graduate? The Path She Has Taken in the Group and Future Hopes

Morning Musume. '15's Sayashi Riho on 10/29 announced her graduation from the group in her personal blog.

Sayashi made her CD debut as a 9th generation member in 2011 with "Maji Desuka Suka". From then on she has been the primary driver of the group's performance, and after Michishige Sayumi's graduation it can be said she's been the lead player and face of the group. Concerning this graduation, in her blog she wrote, "While continuing to run along, I've been thinking a lot about my future life especially this year. It got me thinking that as a single person, don't I have to experience lots of different things in order to live strongly?" which made it clear she'd been worrying about many things, and she decided to make herself a goal of "I want to go abroad to study English and dance" while still remaining part of the agency.

I wonder why Sayashi decided to graduate when she was still young at 17 years old? Mr. Prse, who is very knowledgeable about talents at the agency and calls himself an "idol song disc guide", made a guess at the context of her path within the group.

"Having grown up in Actors School Hiroshima, and being targeted as the ace of the future right after she joined, she's been contributing greatly to the group's performance side since the graduations of Takahashi Ai-san and Tanaka Reina-san who were pulling along the group at that time. Though one can probably say she lived somewhat in isolation from sticking out within the group, it was also more or less the reason for Sayashi-san's personal character. If one had to say, she is an awkward type, and she developed a "bocchi" (lonely) character to the extent people would call her "Hito-RihoRiho" (hitori = alone) and she herself would even use that as material, so you can plainly imagine how she might really want to shed that character and become closer to everyone, which might also have caused stress to develop for her. Also, Michishige Sayumi-san would fawn on her calling her "RihoRiho", and although Sayashi-san isn't really the spoiled type, since it made her become closer with Michishige-san it built up their relationship. However, after Michishige-san graduated in 2014 and the 4 9th generation members rose to the top position, that dependent existence of hers disappeared. That's likely also something which caused her more pressure."

To continue, concerning the influence Sayashi had on the group, he stated this about the role she inherited from the senpai members.

"It was in the period called the 'Platinum Era' when Morning Musume. came to be valued more for their strong skills, and the 9th generation who joined afterward inherited that tradition of maintaining skills and work ethic. Also, on TV Asahi's "Kanjamu Kanzennen SHOW" the other day, at a meeting to reflect on the live which just ended, it was symbolic how a scene was broadcast of Sayashi-san scolding and warning Sato Masaki-san who made mistakes in the choreography, and made me think of how she herself was appealing the stoicism of the group to the world. It's undeniable that with her graduation the appeal of the group will decrease, so we may sooner rather than later see them open new member auditions. However, since there are still members remaining within the group with high performance ability such as Oda Sakura-san with her strong singing ability or Ishida Ayumi-san who along with Sayashi-san was pulling along the group's dancing, one wants to hope for continuing evolution."

He continued analysis concerning the timing of her graduation announcement.

"What the timing of this graduation announcement makes me think of is the case of when 7th generation member Kusumi Koharu-san graduated. She announced her graduation at the first day of the fall 2009 tour, and gave a very sudden comment that she would be graduating in December on the last day of the same tour. This time, with Sayashi-san's last live being the Hello Pro Countdown live in which they'll also be appearing with other groups, there seem to be many people who don't know what would have led her to decide on that date. This time it was also a sudden comment, and trying to think about it now, one ponders for example how over the four days from 7/18-21 she missed concerts due to poor health, and explained her reasons on the next day's "MBS Young Town Saturday" (broadcast every day) of "I was so exhausted that although I wanted to go out there I couldn't even stand", so perhaps that was another omen.

Mr. Prse continued on, focusing on reasoning for Sayashi's "overseas study" from now on, OG member activities, and her state of mind.

"As for her motivation for studying overseas, things like repatriated girl Nonaka Miki-san joining with the 12th generation members, the group going to perform in New York in 2014, having a song "One and Only" which is entirely in English and featured as the opening theme for "J-MELO" (NHK World), and SU-METAL (Nakamoto Suzuka) who is like Sayashi-san formerly of Actors School Hiroshima and, as a member of BABYMETAL, increasingly does overseas performances, Sayashi-san also likely wanted to become more familiar with English and places overseas as a prime factor in her decision. Also, in the past Ogawa Makoto-san and Mitsui Aika-san who after graduation went to study overseas, have come back and resumed activities in showbiz. With Sayashi-san only being 17 years old, even if she takes multiple years to study she'd only be around 20 and so it wouldn't be strange if she once again resumed solo or group activities, so one looks forward to her future."

Lastly, he goes on to say this about her and the group's future with movement throughout all of Hello! Project as a basis.

"Since Michishige's graduation in 2014 there have been huge movements within the whole of Hello Pro, but this case can be said to be a difficult situation as the last in this year of transformation. Those who've become fans in recent years are probably concerned about the durability of Hello Pro continuing on like this, but those who've been fans for a decade or so realize this huge seismic shift is just part of what Hello Pro is, and although it may be wrong to just not worry about it, I think one can only think and react to it as a whole. Also, Sayashi-san making this decision at 17 years old shows her individual strength, and in this environment where she feels this is what she has to do, this strength and intensity as an idol I feel is something precious. Saying this without fear of misunderstanding, I think this decision has a great ambition and romance to it."

This is incredibly shocking news to the group and fans as they reach the end of the year. I want to keep watching over how the group trends to see whether this is just one more thing which will make them stronger as a whole.

Riho Sayashi: "I Want to Break Through"

This is a translation of the article:

Morning Musume. New Era Ace "Sayashi Riho"'s way of life-----The Idol Life Where She Decided to Graduate at 17 "I want to break through"

On the night of 10/29, Morning Musume. '15's Sayashi Riho announced her graduation this year. As who should have been the face of this new Morning Musume. after Michishige Sayumi's graduation last fall, I wondered what thoughts were in her heart as she arrived at this "17-year-old decision".

Super idol born in Hiroshima, Sayashi Riho (shy)

Sayashi Riho was born in 1998 in Hiroshima Prefecture's Higashihiroshima. While learning dance and singing at Actors School Hiroshima from the age of 6 (2005), she polished her skills thinking, "I want to be in Morning Musume. as soon as I can". Then in 2010, after passing the audition for the play "Fashionable" which featured Morning Musume., she achieved the dream of her first meeting with her idolized members...

"I thought she hated me (lol)" -Michishige Sayumi
"That play was full of young innocent girls saying things like, 'Michishige-saーn! Please take a picture with me!' 'You're so aweーsome!' but there was just one girl acting grown-up like "Hmph". With her being so different from the others, my curiosity bubbled up like, 'I wonder what that girl is thinking?'" -Takahashi Ai

That's what they could say about how her shyness was all-out on display, and for a long time after she joined in 2011 the leader at that time, Takahashi Ai, was a little concerned thinking, "She's so serious. To where I'd think 'It's okay if I don't bother her'" (Only Michishige would earnestly show her affection like, 'She had this cuteness which made you want to hug her. Super cute. It was too much to handle. She was expected to be the new ace. Oh, so cute. Really, cute is all I can say."

Before she knew it she was called the "definitive ace" by the fans and media

But, while her performance skills began to stand out from the new members and her original senpai like Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa kept graduating at the same time, she burst out with a "shine to outdo shine" presence peculiar to idols, and became the main vocalist and center along with Tanaka Reina.

"Although when I joined I said, 'Dance is my specialty', Sayashi-san's presence really was huge. Though of course there were also times I thought, 'I don't wanna lose', my own dancing was really no match." -Ishida Ayumi

"Reina, though I haven't said it to Sayashi, was really watching Sayashi closely. Like she's the member I want to be affectionate to the most now. When I glanced at her and our eyes met, it was like, 'She was definitely looking, right? at Reina'. However, though I thought I wanted to be affectionate to her, Sayashi's not good with affection so wouldn't come. To Reina or Sayu. That said, though there was a distance between us since I'm also not one to say 'Come here', she was in Reina's heart" -Tanaka Reina

Sayashi Riho, without being proud at all, and without being satisfied with her current state, kept working stoically to raise her skills and deferred to both her senpai and kouhai, and before she knew it was being hailed as the "definitive ace" by the media and fans. At this time, when she began pulling along Morning Musume. to their new era, many people came to believe in her without any doubts.

I'm probably not necessary to Morning Musume.

However, she was still young, and wasn't at an age where she could carry the burden of "Morning Musume." and all its history. Moreover, Sayashi Riho really did love Morning Musume. She was so intense in thoughts of "I want to spread Morning Musume. around the world" and "I want to make Morning Musume. number one" that when I praised her saying, "Morning Musume. are the coolest idols now", she would give a strong gutty pose with that dazzling stare of hers and spout out challenges like, "Next is #1!" and "We're aiming at Kouhaku!" With that look she overflowed with love toward Morning Musume. no less than her graduated senpai who were always saying "I love Morning Musume. more than anyone!" One could easily imagine the strong pressure she felt carrying on as the ace of that group.

"I've thought things like, 'Am I really in Morning Musume.?' and 'Am I really even necessary to Morning Musume.?' -2013 autumn interview

"There have been days when I've felt so bad that I think, 'I can't sing'...... but when I stood on stage at those times it really lifted my spirits, or rather, when looking at each and every fan's face, I felt so sorry for feeling the way I did before that I started crying..........." -2013 winter interview

It made me happy that I could think 'I want to beat Michishige-san!'

But Sayashi Riho, while being encouraged so often, and while desperately chasing after behind her beloved and respected leader Michishige Sayumi, contributed as ace toward the result of giving Morning Musume. their comeback as they achieved 5 straight #1 Oricon rankings for the first time in the group's history. After Michishige Sayumi's graduation announcement, she burned with a fighting spirit to follow through and take the group higher even at a time of unease about Morning Musume.'s history.

"I want people to say, 'Morning Musume. is so cool'. Since I've also thought, 'I want to join Morning Musume.!' and 'They're so cool!' I think it's linked to the performing and such that I'm doing now. I admire people like Amuro Namie, and though she's not within my reach (lol), I want people to come to think of us as 'They're so cool' like that too" -2014 autumn interview

Then that legendary day. November 26th, 2014 at Yokohama Arena. At the "Morning Musume. '14 Concert Tour Fall ~GIVE ME MORE LOVE~ Michishige Sayumi Graduation Special" concert, getting that unbelievable kiss to the lips = the love from Michishige, that Michishige-ism of continuing with your performance on stage even if your legs don't want to move, she left us with the below words.

"I was watching Michishige-san thinking of how each and every word she says or thing she does she treasures, and how she treasures people, and how she always honestly says what she feels. She has such presence, and I thought that Michishige-san who had an influence on so many people was really so cool! Seeing that cool Michishige-san, time after time I've been so envious. At times like that I get really happy thinking things of myself like, 'I've gotta keep growing' or 'I've gotta change', and it makes me happy that I could think, 'I want to beat Michishige-san!' We will properly keep pulling along this Morning Musume. which Michishige-san built up for us! Also, though I think I've not been good at expressing my feelings toward Michishige-san...... please let me say them today. Michishige-san, I really really love you!"

It's already been one year since then. Morning Musume. '14 has become Morning Musume. '15, the members have altered the power of the group their own way as they've gone past Michishige Sayumi, Producer Tsunku♂ had his shocking bout with throat cancer causing him to retire as Hello! Project producer and their songs and dances to change forever, and it grew into a strong-willed group where no one aimed at the center.

What kind of drama will the 13 of them show us in Morning Musume. '16 after saving up their strength? Will this new Morning Musume. at last storm into the middle of the scene? Maybe I'm the only one with an inflated imagination such as that, but Sayashi Riho with her gutty pose and shining that dazzling gaze was of course included in that image.

So remarkable, that decision by this awkward 17-year-old

On the night of 10/30, Sayashi Riho's graduation announcement livened up the pages of media magazines and caused shocks to fans around the world as well as others in her field. It's well-deserved. Since after joining in 2011 she became the heart of the group along with her great senpai members, and was a primary factor in the comeback of Morning Musume. as the ace in recent years, and therefore no one can doubt that she's been pulling Morning Musume. along since Michishige Sayumi's graduation. Moreover, she's only 17 years old. That's young enough it wouldn't be odd if she would even just soon from now debut as an idol. It's so early in her life.

That said, this is Sayashi who has loved Morning Musume. so much from a young age that it couldn't be helped, and there have been no members in the history of Morning Musume. who have retracted a graduation announcement. Arriving at a graduation decision is something that would be unimaginably troubling and distressing for us to imagine. Anyone who's watched her for long would understand that she's not a smooth enough girl to just be able to say, "I want to go abroad to study English and dance. I'll graduate," after feelings of "I want to stay in Morning Musume." and "I want to keep being Morning Musume.'s Sayashi Riho." just vanish.

Therefore, this decision is remarkable.

One has to respect her decision to graduate from Morning Musume., that place Sayashi Riho loves, has fought for, and has always continued to help aim to the top. For those people who are charmed by, inspired by, and dreamt together with Sayashi Riho and the Morning Musume. with Sayashi Riho in it, we will "support" her Morning Musume. life these remaining two months. Isn't it all we can do to help her arrive at that moment and be able to think from the bottom of her heart, "I'm glad I made" this decision at 17 years old?

"Although now I'm being compared a lot to other Hello! Pro members and idols, Sayashi Riho wants to be her own genre, or rather settle into her own form and be able to stand in a different arena. I want to break through." -2014 autumn interview

Sayashi Riho, 62 days until graduation.

Interviews & text: Tetsuo Hiraga

Good evening! (Riho Sayashi)

This is the translation of Riho Sayashi's 10/30 blog post:

Good evening!

I read lots of comments that you gave me.

From all the fans,
all the Hello! Project members,
my senpai,
and everyone from various fields as well,
I got so many comments,
and since it made me feel again just how big the group "Morning Musume." is,
it makes me so very happy that I've been able to be in that Morning Musume. and be supported by so many people.

Thank you so very very much!

But since it was certainly a sudden announcement,
you were surprised, weren't you..

I'm sorry.

From now on, in the time I have left,
I'll talk the the staff-san of the agency of how I can make more time for memories with all the fans!

Also, I want to make every day until my graduation precious!

we have a one-man concert in my hometown of Hiroshima!

I want to talk about my graduation myself again there,
and make it a really really hot live!

Today is Leader Fukumura Mizuki-chan's birthday!!

Since recently we've come into the season for long sleeves
so she hasn't bared her upper arms for me,

from now on I'm going to assertively and freely touch them!!!


Also, yesterday was Tsunku♂san's birthday!

The words Tsunku♂san gives me when I correspond with him always give me courage!

Until the end I want to sing Tsunku♂san's songs full of spirit!!


Tomorrow is Halloween isn't it (^^)

Sayashi Riho