Ladies and gentlemen, the Niigaki Risa boom has come.
Some crazy points here, coming from a huge Gaki-san fan. Apologies in advance if this sounded bias.
Old news made new. Way back (I think a couple months) before Yossie's graduation announcement, read from somewhere that there were some 'insider' rumour from internal staffs, that Yoshizawa Hitomi, Fujimoto Miki and Takahashi Ai have their solo plans scheduled already. Was it true? Now Yossie's gone, two to go. When? This year? Next year? I don't know. But one thing's for sure, the year 2007 has to be Gaki-san's time to shine.
Sometimes I don't get UFA nor Tsunku's rationale. They have been pushing Tanaka Reina and Kusumi Koharu all this while, but lately it's Gaki-san have been getting some good spots. I'm guessing, Gaki-san is being pushed to the front in preparation to take the lead of Morning Musume once Mikitty and Takitty has graduated.
Firstly, flashback ->
Niigaki Risa was the one who "shined during the final studio recording", according to Tsunku. Actually, Gaki-san was not new to the media. Prior to joining Momusu she has done karaoke commercials with Tomy Corp. Even took part in a local fashion competition. There has been talks amongst Momusu fans over the net, that there were suspected connections between that competition and her possible chances in joining Momusu. As a result, she had a certain amount of following before she finally joined Momusu in 2001.
Initially, Tsunku did make use of Gaki-san's modelling experience for the Tin Tin Town Fashion programme. Even put her in Tanpopo along with Shibata Ayumi. But years gone by, Tsunku seemed to forgot the reason why he chose Gaki-san, and she barely have many opportunities. But then again, she was outshone by her peers(namely Takahashi Ai) and the Tsuji-Kago combo at that time.
After the graduation of Nono and Aibon, Gaki-san became more outspoken, and not afraid to speak her mind. And after the graduation of Ogawa Makoto and Konno Asami, Gaki-san gets more attention - from the management agency and from the fans.
I think I speak for everyone when I say Gaki-san has opened our eyes(and ears) and proved to us that she is well capable of carrying her own weight, with reference to her famous solo rendition of "Koe" in the internet-only programme "Hello Pro Hour".
Other than that, here are some noteworthy track record of Gaki-san, since the mid of last year till now:
1) Most appeal time and appearance time in Hello! Morning. Appeared in ALL segments in a single episode at one point. (Variety segment, Pucchi Game, Zekkyu Commercial)
Don't underestimate the lure of the Haromoni show. Yes, the ratings have dropped somewhat compared to the golden years. But when any of the girls are not scheduled for other prime-time TV programs such as Waratte Itomo and Music Station, Haromoni is the next best available place for self-appeal.
2) Centre position and lead lines.
Morning Curry - 2006 Fuyu Fuyu Special
Thanks! Aruiteru 2006 Ambitious Version - Kouhaku
3) Lined up next to Yossie on position and lead lines. Whether it's the sequence of camera shots in Kouhaku, lead lines in the upcoming "Egao Yes Nude", or dance position, she is arranged to be next to Yossie at a lot of times. I wonder if this is deliberate, perhaps to signify anything at all. (Seems like my dream last week was trying to tell me something)
4) Of course, who could leave out the Momusu A-Team.
I had thought since in the "Bokura ga ikiru My Asia" jacket photo Gaki-san is positioned to the far side, opposite of Iida Kaori, she was going to be another flower-vase yet again.
But after watching the Haromoni on Sunday, it presented otherwise, they're not shy to present Gaki-san (along with Koharu-chan) at the same level with the golden girls Nacchi, Kaorin and Gocchin. If Tsunku's plan of expanding to the Asian market works, with Gaki-san's chinese-like look, she may become even popular.
All this while, Gaki-san knows her place and remained in the background supporting others when it's not her time. She is one young pro, who loves her job and her fans, and she deserves her share of the limelight someday.
I'm not trying to predict anything, or make any brave statement. Just noting that it has been a good year of 2006 for Niigaki Risa. And the year of 2007 has started with a big bang for her too.
Let's hope this little Momusu veteran of 6 years will finally show us the power of her "Mayuge Beam".
Thanks for reading. Peace ^_^