Well, Up-Front released a bomb of an announcement on Friday. Normally, I try to be positive about changes in Hello Project but I do not think I can forgive this one.
With Country Girls’ playing manager, Tsugunaga Momoko’s graduation set for the end of this month, Country Girls will undergo a system change. In their half-assed explanation, Up-Front Works stated that Country Girls would only release digital singles and perform during school and long holidays.
Three of the members, Morito Chisaki, Yanagawa Nanami and Funaki Musubu will be either added to a new group or split among existing groups.
Yamaki Risa and Ozeki Mai will go on a semi-hiatus to focus on their studies. They will still perform on stage with the other Country Girls members when needed. They will not be added to a new or existing group.
Judging from the blog posts from the Country Girls members and other Hello Project members, this news is still pretty new to them. They also were not involved in the decision-making process and were told after the fact.
Risa sounded exceptionally pissed in her blog post. However, I cannot blame her. I am pissed as well. Up-Front Works, what the hell were you thinking? You take one of your popular and best-selling groups and basically turn it into a subunit, like Buono! or the original Country Musume. Is it that you think that the group cannot survive without Momoko? Well, I beg to differ. I believe that they would have been successful without her as a 5-nin group or even if they added a few new members.
While I understand that Risa’s and Mai’s education is important, this system change is a bad idea. Also, they had little say in this decision. I find it distasteful and unfair not only to the members but to the fans as well. Now, Risa and Mai’s futures are uncertain. I would not be surprised if they graduated or left the company.
I am very disappointed in the company. I have always favoured Hello Project because of how well they treat their artists but they have lost points with me here. There are many other fans that are outraged by this announcement as well.
I hoped to see Risa as a leader someday. I also hoped for some new members from Hello Pro Hokkaido. Unfortunately, this will only remain as a dream of mine.
It has not been announced which groups Chisaki, Nanami or Musubu will be joining. However, I suspect that they will be added to a new group along with the three Kenshuusei, Ichioka Reina, Danbara Ruru and Kawamura Ayano, who are set to debut.
I do not know how to feel about this. Firstly, in my mind, it narrows the chances of my favourite Kenshuusei, Maeda Kokoro and Horie Kizuki being added to a new unit with Reina, Ayano and Ruru. Secondly, I am not sure if the skills and personalities of the Country Girls members will mix well with the debuting Kenshuusei. It sounds like a strange mix. Ruru and Musubu are vocal powerhouses and Ayano and Chisaki are great dancers. I do not know if they can be a good team or have a good mix of personalities though.
Hopefully, there is another announcement or more information about this system change. I am very sad and disappointed at this news. However, I am happy that Country Girls will still be performing in the Hello Project Summer tour. Until then, I will cherish the current 6-nin group until June 30, 2017.
PS: I am even more pissed now because I just realised that they are breaking up my ChisakixMai OTP! UGH!