This seems to the year for graduations in Hello Project.
C-ute is set to graduate on June 12th.
Country Girls’ Tsugunaga Momoko will graduate on June 30th.
A few weeks ago Kudo Haruka announced that she would graduate from Morning Musume ’17 at the end of their autumn tour.
Now, Kobushi Factory’s subleader, Fujii Rio, will be graduating from the group and Hello Project at the end of the Hello Project Summer Tour. Rio stated that is her dream to be a teacher or nurse. Therefore, she will be leaving the entertainment industry in order to achieve those dreams. The official statements from Rio and Up-Front can be found on the official website, which can be accessed here. English translations have been posted on Up-Front Link’s Facebook page.
This comes as a huge shock to me. Kobushi Factory only debuted two years ago. I did not expect anyone to leave so soon and I certainly did not expect Rio to be the first one. I am disappointed by this news.
I can’t even imagine how the other members feel. As stated in their blog posts, many of the members already knew of Rio’s departure. However, they were still in shock, but they showed their support for Rio’s decision.
Strangely, I have yet to see a comment from Ogawa Rena about Rio’s departure. I do not know if she said anything since I last checked their blogs but I can only hope that there is no bad blood between them.
With Rio’s departure, I wonder if the line-up will remain at seven members or if a new member will be added. Personally, I believe that a new member is not necessary, Kobushi Factory will do fine with the existing seven members.
As disappointed as I am, I respect Rio’s choice and I wish her all the best. Thank you for the past two years, Rio!