Morning Musume 18’s Iikubo Haruna has announced her graduation from
Hello Project. According to her official statement, Haruna wanted a new challenge. Therefore, she
will graduate to pursue solo activities in various fields in the entertainment
industry. Her graduation ceremony will be on December 16, 2018, at Nippon
Despite her somewhat vague reasoning for leaving, I am not surprised
that Haruna decided to graduate. This is Morning Musume’s second graduation for the year, with the first being Ogata Haruna’s. I should have guessed this announcement was
coming by the amount of double Haruna features that was released in print and
on the web right before Ogata’s graduation.
At 23 years old (going on 24), Haruna is also the oldest member of the group. It is also the prime graduation time for Hello Project members, which also made it less of a surprise for me. Although, I will admit that I expected Fukumura Mizuki to be the next to graduate. However, it seems that she would be here for a little bit longer as ANGERME member Wada Ayaka will be passing on her Hello Project leadership to her.
However, despite the predictability of Haruna’s graduation, I am still
sad. Her departure will leave a glaring hole in the group, especially on
variety shows and during concert MCs. She is one of the best and most engaging
talkers in the group. Thankfully, the group still has Masaki, Maria and Ayumi
to hold down the MCing fort.
All these departures from Morning Musume will reduce its member count to
11 members. The 10th generation will only have two members left. I
wonder if this will result in a search for new members. I am surprised that an
audition has not been announced as yet, but that may be because the Hello
Project “ONLY YOU” audition is still ongoing.
Personally, I would prefer for administration to choose new members out
of the Kenshuusei. Especially, those that have been training for a while. They
would have stage experience and honed skills that would make for a more natural
integration in the fast-paced and challenging life of Morning Musume.
There are only a few months left before Haruna graduates. Until then, I
hope she continues to shine in the group and take advantage of the time in
Morning Musume. I wish her all the best in the future.