It's that question again - Why?
It's been many days since Mitsui Aika was chosen as the lucky intake in the Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition. So has the anger of the fans died down yet? Some of us probably haven't gotten over the addition of Kusumi Koharu during the 7th Audition. From all the forums and blogs I read, most are still optimistic and supportive of Mitsui. So we'll see what happens...
Now I am attempting to analyze why, out of the six girls comprising of Mitsui Aika, Satou Sumire, Kikkawa Yuu, Hanada Natsumi, and Okumura Minami (Masuda Ayami not included because she have withdrawn from the final audition on the last day), Miss "Face with Braces" was chosen, based on the Hello! Morning broadcasts of the audition episodes that I have watched. Lots of guesses and speculations, and made many references. Have lots of my personal observation of the girls' character, judging from their behaviour, body language, and speech. So please do not take this as gospel.
First of all, Morning Musume auditions is not American Idol or any other talent contest where the viewers can submit their votes. One vote is enough, and it is Tsunku's. I'm sure that if the fans were allowed to vote, either Satou or Masuda will be the winner (If not both).
After watching the Hello! Morning broadcasting of the audition, I realised that my previous ratings for each of the girls have changed, now that we are able to see bit the girls' informal behaviors.
After watching, I have tonnes of questions in my head, among them:
1) Was Mitsui already chosen before the final audition day? If so, was that Haromoni show last week edited to show minimum mistakes and blunders displayed by Mitsui?
2) Was that Haromoni also re-edited to showcase some emotional moments, for the sake of television?
3) Did Tsunku have someone else in mind? Did Tsunku favour Masuda Ayami, but have to switch to Mitsui since she took off?
4) Was Masuda's departure a sabotage attempt made by Avex?
5) What was Tsunku's criteria for choosing the 8th gen member? Or any Morning Musume intake as a whole?
Will discuss it below.
The one with the least confidence, poor in singing and dancing ability, and low self-esteem. She had the desire and adapts well. From what I see during the boot camp, after the dance lesson crash course, her dancing is better on the second day. However, she cannot perform under pressure, and did horribly during the recording sessions and live performance. Definitely the most quiet of the lot, and doesn't interact well with the others. Her screen-time is so limited. Not surprised that she didn't make it.
This is a grown-up girl with lots of pride. Judging from her blog entries and the Purikura (Print Club) pictures that she displays regularly, she is one typical Harajuku gal. (Not that I've met one in my life, but she definitely fits the stereotyped image). I think Okumura's got problems with authority and superiors, avoided looking at the voice coach in the eye as he is lecturing her during the vocal drills. The funny scene is during the stayover night, when she was ranting with Masuda Ayami, citing "Singing is about yourself, while dancing is about teamwork", probably upset with the voice coach and dance instructor. Seems like Okumura lacks work ethics, and underestimated the entertainment biz. If you cannot carry your own weight (with singing and dancing), don't expect others in your team to work with you, because you'll bring them down with you. I think Okumura is definitely the one of the best dancing performance - solo wise. She cannot work in a team.
Overall, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. If she is chosen, she will be handful to control, and may land herself (and the people around her) into loads of trouble later on.
Side note: Reading Okumura's recent blog entries, it seems that after her dropout she was clearly devastated, and became really emotional. Later on, she said that she felt better, glad that she had given her best, and expressed her thanks to those who offered their support through email. She also added although she was dissapointed that she didn't win, she was happy that "Mitsui-chan" whom she was closest with, made the audition. We all know that she is a big fan of Morning Musume, and I wonder how all this had affected her...
This is a big lady in a little girl's body. Full of confidence, friendly, plenty of energy and good leadership quality. Had dance lessons before. Zero mistakes, a well all-rounder. We saw her getting friendly with the other girls, and practically leading her team in a short dance practice in their dorm room. Makes me forget that this girl is only 12 years old. Not sure if it's a good idea for her to act alpha-female despite being the youngest of the six. Her constant bobbing around while singing is cute, and is well noted by all. But I find that she doesn't bounce to the beat. (She is just bouncing for the sake of it) During the sing and dance group performance, Sumire's team was asked to show a simple dance steps for him. So they did some two-steps, half-box...etc. Afterwards, he singled Sumire out, brought in the other team to join her and did dance steps again. Tsunku didn't explain why. Sumire seemed puzzled. But I think Tsunku probably acknowledged her dancing skills, and used her to compare with the other three. So Tsunku knows that she is good, but just not the girl he wanted. Dang...
The one who did the least homework before joining the final audition. As a result she is most self-conscious after comparing herself with the others. She tries hard to keep up, and hates being left behind. The voice coach notes that she has no sense of tempo, but I think she's just nervous. Overall, She has the spirit, and works hard when being pushed. The BBS' however, notes the size of her boobs, despite her being only 14. :) I like how she looked on performance day, absolutely pretty and cute. Presentation bland, but did a good job singing. I love to see a hard-working, high-spirited girl joining Morning Musume but her ability lies somewhere in the middle - not too bad, but not too good.
Tsunku was right, Mitsui Aika did not give her all. At "62% output" as he puts it, she has not shown everything she's got. She hesitates when she dances, but on dance performance day, it is visible that she can do well if she wants to. Her casual interaction with the elder Okumura, shows that she can be outgoing. She learns by watching, obedient, willing to learn, and adapts quickly. A teacher's pet, the type that any tutor would love to teach and train. Obviously she was already chosen before the final audition episode was aired, which is why I felt that the episode have been re-edited to display minimal mistakes made by her, and tries to show her good sides. One thing I noticed, during the finalists' first meeting with Tsunku, on dance performance day, while all other 5 girls stood with their feet together, only Mitsui's feet are standing apart. My observation (and experience) from this body language, shows that Mitsui is the most eager of the rest and is not 100% intimidated by Tsunku. She knows what she wants and knows (how to take charge of) her own future. Just like Ishikawa Rika. In other words, she has a hidden character and spirit that is stronger than you think, unlike her shy and timid outlook.
But these are not the only reasons Tsunku chose her. Will explain later...
[Edited last few sentences on 19-12-2006]
This is one starlet with the highest potential. She is probably better off in Avex, where they notice your talents and put them to good use. The way she handles the mic, making full use of the free hand (that is not holding the mic), taking small rhythmic steps while singing so as to not cause vibration to the singing voice, eye contact... man, she's got skillz and she is professional material. (She HAD taken dance and singing lessons before) Obviously, she displays influence from R&B divas, judging from her gestures. She can be a huge star, but she lacks the height. In contrast to what people say about her over-confidence, she is still a plain, young 13 year old girl. From the way she happily wept over the voice coach's compliments, and the way she asks Mitsui if she "can snuggle next to her because she felt lonely" during the lights-off. In my opinion, Morning Musume could use a girl like her. With her, she can draw some younger audience that share the modern musical tastes that she have.
Side note: After referring to various sources, I am not sure of the timeline of her auditioning for Avex. It is said that she took part in the Avex 2006 audition and Momusuu 8th Gen at the same time (hence the same T-shirt). When she heard that she wasn't chosen for Avex, she continued on to the final audition round for Momusu. Then later, Avex called her in, and she went off. I sense a sabotage, an apparent act to deny potential talent to UFA, ... but I'm not sure. But I know that the Avex 2006 audition is not only for singers, but for dancers, actors/actress, TV talents, models... and not specifically for finding backup dancers for Koda Kumi as many people believed - Avex can always refer to their professionally trained dancer troupe for that.
So now comes the million dollar question:
Why? Tsunku, why?
From Tsunku's comment on his official website, he mentions that while this audition saw a high degree of talent participating, he is looking for a girl that is "raw but gets your attention, because of her languidness (slow-paced, weak-like, lack of enthusiasm)" ... gosh, this reminds me of Konno Asami. Furthermore, he adds that he is attracted about "the voice. High treble-like, but can find resonance in (the listener's) heart. However, to be honest, her dancing is bad.".... Is this "Konkon 2"? Then he adds that this means that Morning Musume needs more of the fans' love and attention.
So now, you know...
In conclusion, I still feel Satou Sumire or Masuda Ayami should be chosen into Morning Musume as well. It's a terrible feeling to watch good talents gone to waste. There have been rumours on the Japanese BBS that the producers of AKB48 have been luring the Momusu 8th Gen dropouts under their wing. Honestly, I don't know to happy about it or not. But I hope to see more of Masuda in the future.
Tsunku also mentions in Hello! Morning and in his website comment, that he will be targeting Asia as Morning Musume's future direction. I have high expectations for this ambitious plan, and hope that they can achieve what they announced.
Thanks for reading long post. Peace ^_^