Hello! Project Updates

Juice=Juice’s World Tour

Juice=Juice is currently on their first world tour entitled “Juice=Juice LIVE AROUND 2017 ~World Tour~”. The tour officially began on September 8th in Mexico City, Mexico. Since then, they have performed in England, France, Germany, Malaysia and Indonesia. They will be performing in Taiwan on October 1st.

Juice=Juice ran into a couple of incidents during this tour. On the day Juice=Juice arrived in Mexico (September 7th), there was a deadly 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the Southern part of the country. The group was reported to be safe. Unfortunately, Mexico suffered tremendous damage. Many buildings were destroyed and hundreds of lives have been lost. There was another earthquake a few days later that struck the Central areas of Mexico. This earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. My heart goes out to those affected by the disasters in Mexico.

In another incident, the day after Juice=Juice’s concert in London, there was an alleged terror attack in a tube station. A bomb exploded in one of the carriages injuring thirty persons. Management reported that Juice=Juice was not in the vicinity of the attack and was safe. Thankfully, no deaths have been reported.

I am glad that the girls are safe and I hope that the rest of their tour runs smoothly. In their announcement video, the group stated that they also made plans to stop in the United States and Thailand, however, dates for these locations have yet to be announced. I am still hoping that they (or any Hello Project act) comes to Canada soon.

Fujii Rio’s Dismissal

Kobushi Factory’s Fujii Rio was set to graduate on September 2, 2017. Unfortunately, she never received this opportunity as her contract was cancelled weeks before her graduation date. In their official announcement, Up-Front Promotion stated that Rio violated the rules of the company on countless occasions. She was given an initial warning but her actions did not improve. Therefore, they were forced to cancel her contract and part ways.

The announcement could not be any vaguer. Many fans tried to decode this message and began coming up with their theories. Some fans thought that Rio may have been dating while others thought she was failing in school. A few fans suggested that she may have been skipping training and rehearsals. My own theory aligns with the last one. If I had to make a guess, I would say that Rio no longer felt inclined to attend her practice and events, especially since she was about to graduate. That is just my imagination at work. We would not know what really happened unless we hear it from the parties involved. Sadly, I do not see this happening in the near future.

It is disappointing that she had to leave like this. It casts a bad light on her and put a lot of pressure on the group. It would have been nice for her to get a graduation ceremony but things did not work out in that way.

Ogawa Rena’s Departure

Kobushi Factory just cannot seem to get a break this year. They were at the top of their game for the past two years and now seemed to hit a bump in their journey. Including to Rio’s departure, the group also lost another Ogawa Rena.

Rena went on hiatus a few months ago for anxiety disorder. However, earlier this month, it was announced that Rena graduated from the group. The English translation from UP-FRONT LINK can be found here. Her condition did not improve and she did not see it improving in the near future, therefore, she decided to graduate. Rena was one of my favourite members of the group, so this announcement made me incredibly sad. It also made me a bit worried for Maho, who suffers from panic disorder and is currently on hiatus.

On the other hand, a part of me wonders if her sudden departure had anything to do with her dating scandal. While on hiatus, pictures of a female, who looked a lot like Rena was floating about the internet. These pictures also included a boy who appeared to be the female’s significant other. In one of the pictures, the two are even seen kissing! Many fans have also compared the handwriting on the pictures to Rena’s handwriting, stating that it is almost a complete match. Hello Project tends to ignore dating scandals but this one was pretty obvious, so I wondered if this had a hand in Rena’s departure.

Since her leave, it is alleged that Rena made her personal Twitter profile public. It has not been confirmed if this account actually belongs to Rena or not. All of the tweets are in Japanese with a lot of them referring to couples, dating and sexual activities. Personally, I do not think that it is actually Rena but I can be wrong. I just find the content of her tweets is very strange and I am confused as to why she randomly made her personal account open to the public.

EDIT: Rena has made her Twitter profile private once again.

Aikawa Maho’s Hiatus

Speaking of ANGERME’s Aikawa Maho, Up-Front Promotion released an updated announcement stating that Maho’s condition has been gradually improving. The official announcement can be found on Hello Project’s website.

Maho is still on hiatus as the doctor is still monitoring her to see if she can perform on stage. I have faith that Maho can overcome this and become stronger. I know that it is a hard road but I know that she will make it through. I am continuously rooting for her and I hope we are able to see her on stage once again!

Inaba Manaka’s return

Thankfully, Hello Project also has some good news. It seems that Inaba Manaka has returned to the entertainment industry! Last year, Manaka graduated from Country Girls due to her asthma problems. She has been on hiatus since then and was being treated at home in Hokkaido.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that Manaka will return to Hello Project as a soloist and the leader of Hello Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido. You can access the official announcement here and the English translation on UP-FRONT LINK’s Facebook Page here. After her asthma stabilized, Manaka spoke to management about her desire to perform again. Manaka was very popular during her days in Hello Pro Kenshuusei and Country Girls. She is also very talented, so I am not surprised that the company welcomed her back with opened arms.

Hello Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Teiki Kouen Vol.4 on September 18, was her first event since her return. Her promotions will be mostly in Sapporo, Hokkaido. I am glad to see Manaka is back and will be actively promoting. I really hope to see new content from her very soon!

Kudo Haruka’s Graduation Date

It has been announced that Morning Musume ‘17’s will be graduating from the group on December 11, 2017. The concert will take place in Nippon Budokan. After her graduation, Haruka will focus on becoming an actress.

Time flies and December 11th is right around the corner. I am already depressed, especially after seeing the music video for “Wakain da shi!”. I do not think I will ever be ready for Haruka’s graduation. I know I will cry like a baby.

Until then, I will cherish the time she has left in the group.

Sengoku Minami and Sato Ayano Graduates from Up Up Girls

This is not directly Hello Project related but Sengoku Minami and Sato Ayano have graduated from Up Up Girls. I do not actively follow Up Up Girls but I am familiar with their music and members since their Hello Pro Egg days. Both girls have been with Up Up Girls since its conceptualization in 2011.

In her announcement, Ayano stated that she would to “continue to make people smile in a different way from idols” (translation from Hello Project Wikia). I am going to assume that means she has also left the entertainment industry. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours and I hope she finds a way to continue making people smile.

Minami stated that she would like to pursue acting after her graduation (translation from Hello Project Wikia). I wish her all the best in that pursuit.

I am interested to see how Up Up Girls grows from this situation. They have lost two members but recently added five new members as a second generation. I am curious to see what the future holds.

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