Restarting the Old Rusty Engine
(For the 2nd Time too)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Arrivederci Kago Ai.... Some Thoughts and Closure

Okay, I'm more sober today. Yesterday, I was bawling away over the departure of Kago Ai. But after reading the recent entries by fellow bloggers like pengie and CJ, I realise... things could have been worse, and that life goes on no matter what. Everything needs a closure, so here's mine:

By now, Aibon's case have been all over the news:

After watching all other news reports, all agree with the speculation that Aibon may be scheduled to return to showbiz at either Yoshizawa Hitomi's graduation concert OR Aibon's birthday next year, when she turns 20 years of age. Check out the news clips accumulated here.... it's no wonder we call Morning Musume "National Idols".

Overall, I think Aibon's exit is just too... improper. To exit with a scandal may set a bad example to the younger artistes in Hello! Project. However, it has probably taught UFA a great lesson and made them realise that they have a greater responsibility to play as custodians and "foster parents" in order to educate their talents in their artiste roster.

Related to what I wrote back in the Momusu 8th gen auditions, you want to stay in the game, then play the game. There are rules and ethics to follow in every organization you join. I'm sure other agencies like Avex, and Stardust Promotions have their own rules. I find it hard to believe Aibon do not know the consequences of breach of contract. There must more than we know about the whole scandal issue... something behind the scenes and meeting rooms that we have no access to.

There were many rumours and hear-says travelling around about this case. I'll examine them point by point here. Just my own speculation and analysis of the matter.

Aibon doesn't want to come back to show biz
Rumour has it that Aibon has said it herself, that she wanted to marry and become a mother before she turn 20, just like her own mother (who had Aibon when she was 17). I guess her own mother was a huge influence that lead to this kind of mentality. I remember from some TV show that Aibon do have dreams of becoming a young stay-at-home mom (I think it was the Kochi-ike drama interview). Which brings me to my next point.

UFA wants Aibon back, but Aibon does not
I have made my share of speculations, one of them is regarding the contractual terms between Aibon and UFA, and which party is the one holding back the final say of contract termination. Combined with the rumours I can only conclude that UFA is one holding back and is trying to keep Aibon. But Aibon on the other hand, probably due to the long suspension that gave her ample time to think her future over, decided that she wants to quit. UFA, of course, could not accept the loss of opportunity of balancing the revenue loss due to the first scandal, probably is enforcing the comeback upon Aibon. Therefore, maybe.... just maybe, Aibon devised a plan of her own...

Action from example - Yaguchi Mari
Take from a past example that worked, force UFA to a situation that they HAVE to release her - a scandal. Up till this day, I still do not think Marippe's scandal with actor Oguri Shun was by any means an unfortunate circumstances. Marippe, whom we all know, is a serious worker who understands the ethics to be a good entertainer and professional idol. I don't think Marippe would be that careless to allow paparazzi catch her playing Pachinko with Oguri in public, and allow the reporters to approach them to ask a few questions. If I were in that situation, I'd RUN! Deep inside, I feel that Marippe was trying to leave Momusu early, before the image is totally glued to herself. But UFA would not let her, because they had plans to go a long way with her, using her to carry out new projects. It started Mini Moni, then the Hello! Project Kids project with ZYX. That's why I think the scandal is no coincidence.
Same goes with Aibon. She camouflaged herself with thick-rimmed glasses, changed her attire, tied her hair up, wore a cap (before entering the restaurant) back when she was caught smoking in the first place. A few days ago, she is totally in the open, without cover, car windows wind down, hold hands in public.... I mean, what is THAT? It's so obvious that she simply doesn't care if anyone catches them at all.

Ok... that's all. I have a lot more in my mind but I decided to put this issue behind me. Whatever happened has happened. Whatever the truth may be, we have no choice but to leave all questions unanswered. Life goes on. I cannot go on dwelling on the issue. God has been good, to let Aibon come into our lives, who grew up with us. For the countless times she entertained me with her natural antics and in song, I can never thank her enough. I wish Aibon the best of luck in whatever she do. Mayhaps we may see her again sometime, someplace, somewhere...

Thanks for reading. Peace ^_^


Julia said...

Nice words, jin. I don't think I'm even sane enough yet to write anything of my own about this. ><

Rob said...

Well said. Although I would like to see her back, if she really wants to go we should let her. She has given a lot to her fans and it may be our turn to give her some time away that she needs.

It is very possible that what you say about Yaguchi and Kago is true, that the scandals are deliberate. I think it is also very possible that they just let their guard down. In a city the size of Tokyo, it is possible to be right out in public and not noticed at the same time. With as many girls that dress like her, Aibon could probably stroll through Shibuya and not be noticed.

Vyvy said...

I was thinking that it was diliberate too.

You mentioned before that the man she was photographed with is supposedly married. If they were really close friends, than he probably would have agreed to help her in making another scandal. Hopefully, he was just there to shock UFA into letting her go.

So if it were like that... I wonder who the real man in her life is... >_> I hope their children become wonderful idols!

If she didn't go through the smoking scandal last year (which i believe was not on purpose), she would have eventually done a scandal like this, or beg UFA for a graduation from H!P by now.

I recall Aya Ishiguro had graduated from H!P becuase she was pregnant and not married. Surely, Aibon could have been as discreet as her in finding a man whom she wished to marry and graduating without any sad/bad issues. Especially if she wanted to go back into the entertainment business after her future children grew up.

I hope everything works out for Aibon in the end.

Graham said...

I've thought along those lines right from the beginning. Time to move on. We still have the music, concerts and photos to look at. Good luck to Aibon as I wish her well. Thank you for providing all the information over the past year. I've followed it right through.
Cheers Graham.

Xacur said...

Thanks Jin, 'cause you have been so much help in waiting for the come back of Aibon.
Knowing that she's not coming back anymore is like failure in a group project. I'm not sad anymore, but I'm still angry and frustrated, with all this "Idols con't be persons" thing.
And no matter what I will support Aibon forever.
Again, thanks, Jin.

Mick a.k.a. jinryuichi said...

@Julia... Believe me, it wasn't easy for me too. (T^T)

@Rob... Yes, what you say is true. However, the tabloid people have assigned their soldiers to STALK their victims. Their equipment are crazy - telephoto lens, SLR, wireless cameras, pinhole videocam, long range shotgun mics... etc. I'm sure UFA would have given the girls a lecture class about this, so that they be more wary. But of course, they are not bothered at all. Because, like you said, it probably may be deliberate after all. Oh well...

@Vyvy... Well said there, I also wonder about what would Aibon have done if the scandal last year didn't come up. And great point bringing up about Ayappe, I totally forgot about her.

@Graham and Xacur... Thanks for the kind words. Myself, I find it great to be able to interact with you guys on the net, it really helps me too. If I hadn't started this blog, I'd probably be sitting in one corner sulking about Aibon all by myself. Don't speak as if I'm going to shut down my blog now. LOL ^_^. But yeah, some of the websites dedicated to Aibon that I normally visit have shut down one by one. Lest you forget, I am also a Gaki-san, Saki-chan and MaiMai fanboy!

Cheers all!

Anonymous said...

The more i think about it, the more plausible it seems that the whole thing was deliberate. To add to your points, if she was really keen on making a comeback, I'm sure she woulda done some voice training during her suspension so that its in shape. UFA should have thought about this too if she was serious about a comeback.

Rikki said...

As much as I like Jin, I have to say that I don't find this believable at all. The artist always holds the trump card because, no matter what the contract says, the artist can just perform badly. That is such a subjective thing that the employer can never prove it is being done deliberately. So an artist can always get out of a contract just by saying, let me out or I'll fulfill all the legal requirements of my contract, but I'll do them badly. I'll sing badly and I'll dance badly.

Vyvy said...

I don't think it's any artist's fault for wanting to get out of UFA. I think UFA needs to change some of it's standards. No one in H!P is allowed to be dating or married. Why do you think Yu-chan is still single? She doesn't want to leave H!P and give up what she has, even though she longs for a husband (or so she says). I know the majority fanbase for H!P artists are WOTAs, but if they had a little more lee way in marriage and relationships, their female fan base would probably increase. For instance, maybe it would be okay for them to be married and still be in H!P after 22.

For example, Utada Hikaru got married at a young age, with an older man as well. The situation was handled very nicely, and Utada didn't suffer from it. Niether did her divorce.

UFA's idol requirements is that they want to appeal to people (mainly WOTAs) by having girls that can seem obtainable. However, I'm sure WOTAs would still be there even if Yu-chan, Marippe, Nacchi, and Gocchin got married. It's all just a fantasy for them, right? Ayappe couldn't stay in H!P cuz she wanted to get married (and was pregnant)... but she still wanted a career. It's sad that their clients would have to go through extreme measures and scandals to get what they want.

Faramir, said...

Personally, from what I can infer, Aibon quite possibly wanted to quit showbiz as early as when she was at the height of her popularity during 2001/2002, when she was only 13/14; but because, at that much younger age, she was unable to find a better alternative, she just had to persevere until finally, she became brave enough and motivated enough to dare to do something scandalous last year, just so as to tempt outside forces to at least suspend her from showbiz; this would buy her time to ponder over her personal future; in fact, I think that her return to Tokyo as a clerk in UFA 2 months ago bought her more time to plan, with outside help of course, her final escape from the clutches of UFA and the Japanese entertainment industry!

Aibon's a smart girl, isn't she?

As far as I'm concerned, whether she's still active in the entertainment industry or not, whether she's dead or alive, she'll always have a special place in my heart, as an encouragement and inspiration in my life...

Xacur said...

Aibon's a smart girl, isn't she?

No doubt about that. You can tell at first sight.

Mick a.k.a. jinryuichi said...

Sorry for late response and thanks for all the comments.

Just a bit of info based on my own knowledge and experience. Apologies in advance for any offense caused, if any.

I agree to a certain extent to all comments. But no disrespect, the artiste DO NOT hold the trump card, and you cannot just get out of a contract as you like. There's a reason why artiste associations are founded to prevent/control the artiste from behaving badly, and deviating from their employment description. Of course, to be fair, it depends on the terms outlined in the contract agreement. Ultimately, the only time where an artiste can have the "trump card" (though limited), is when he/she is self-managed or having creative control over his/her own works. Performing badly without a valid reason is in fact, have the same severity as defamation of the agency's image.

I can recall an example - the Eagles concert tour back in 1980, in California. Where Eagles members Don Felder and Glenn Frey had a bitter conflict, but they performed the show just as scheduled. They waited until the show was over, and then proceeded to beat the crap out of each other backstage. Afterwards, although the two still hate each other's guts, they still have the next album to record. Instead of trying to get out of the recording contract, they recorded their parts in separate locations, and had them mailed to the studio to be mixed and produced. Frey and Felder did not let personal grudge prevent them from performing professionally.

Although Aibon is smart, but maybe that's what she lacked - a certain amount of professionalism. To quote Vyvy's comment, there's nothing wrong in wanting to get out of a contract. But there is the professional ethics to consider, to fulfill the promise of meeting the contract requirements when signing on the dotted lines.

Which is why I speculated as I did - a scandal to bid for an instant termination on the grounds of misconduct.

Now, I'm not going to act all smarty-pants and pretend as if I know everything about the showbiz, but ... you know, it's over now. Aibon is gone, and we're all devastated. It's all but a showbiz tragedy. Let's move on, Hello! Project still have other acts to offer.

Thanks for reading, and again, apologies for any offense.

Peace ^_^

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