Today 30th October 2011 the wonderful, talented, lovely and beautiful Takahashi Ai graduated from Morning Musume.
I have said so much over the years about how much I admire Ai so I won’t repeat myself. But Ai-chan has given me so much happiness and entertainment over the past few years since I got into H!P. I had the pleasure of actually meeting her and seeing her perform live in Paris last year and that is the highlight of my Hello! Project obsession so far. I can’t see it being beaten unless I get to Japan one day for a good few weeks obsessive compulsive H!Pping!
Through her singing on singles and albums and in live concerts, through her solo dvd’s (especially the Alo-Hello and Love-Hello dvd’s), through her shared dvd’s with other members, through her solo photobooks, through her countless H!P-related tv appearances, through her stage performances and even through her tv acting work on Q.E.D. (which might not have been that good but nevertheless Ai herself was great) Ai has given so much priceless pleasure not just to me but to many many thousands of other people too all around the world. Which when you think about it is rather wonderful. Just like Ai-chan herself. Her hard work, talent and personality has given so much to others. Even Niigaki in her graduation message to Ai mentioned how she puts everyone else first. Ai deserves all the success she has had and deserves all the success still to come. I like many others will continue to support her with whatever path her career takes next.
Ai-chan’s final message to her fans was shown on the big screen at the concert venue. It said simply “Arigatou” (which reminds me of Paris when she was going through the departure gate when she shouted a thank you to the watching fans). This post is my way of saying the same thing back to Ai. Thank you. Thank you for being the reason I went to Paris (where I had a great time and met my partner). Thanks for making me believe there are people out there worth supporting. Thanks for opening my mind up to all the wonders that Japanese idol entertainment can bring. Thanks for singing all those great songs. Thanks for the countless hours of wonderful life-affirming entertainment. Thanks for being you. To me Ai Takahashi is the best idol Hello! Project has ever had. Ai-chan simply is life-affirming. The Japanese Audrey Hepburn. The beautiful and sensitive humanitarian. She will always be my H!P Queen.
Of course Morning Musume continues (with Sayumi as sub-leader and my new current favourite). I will watch to see what happens next. The next single will be a record breaker if it makes the top ten. The joint most amount of top ten singles in Japan ever apparently. I hope it makes it. I also hope the ninth gen continue to grow and that the tenth gen settle in quickly and start to catch them up. Yes Morning Musume is about to have a very different dynamic. I hope they find a renewed musical youthfullness too. I’m sure Ai-chan will cheer them on in the background just like Nakazawa Yuko still does. I’m sure Ai will also find her own life full of interesting and hopefully enjoyable new challenges. Onwards to the future with anticipation of great things still to come for both Momusu and Ai! But for the past it is only right to say AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN ARIGATOU!