Members post-Morning Musume

For some graduates of Morning Musume, giving up the limelight and gratification of fans is too much and they decide to carry on within Hello! Project, if they are given the chance. The current trend with those doing so isn’t great. Let’s examine those who decided to remain in the fame game…

Important Note: Please read this carefully, this post is about people who graduated from Morning Musume, but decided to stay within Hello! Project and continue a solo career, when I say “first to graduate” I refer to the first one to graduate and stay as a soloist. Therefore, this isn’t about any of the members who graduated from both Hello! Project and Morning Musume. Thanks

This is a very long post!

Nakazawa Yuko
Graduated April 2001

The first member of Morning Musume to graduate and decide to remain a part of Hello! Project, Nakazawa has released seven singles and one album since her graduation from Morning Musume in Spring 2001. This means she’s released around one single a year since her graduation. Nakazawa’s music career has some success but it’s fair to say as a soloist she has reached nowhere near the heights of Matsuura Aya or even Natsumi Abe. Nakazawa has had a rather more successful career MCing at concerts, hosting Hello! Morning and appearing on various other television programs. Since her graduation, Nakazawa Yuko has appeared in the 2004 shuffle group, H.P All Stars and Puripuri Pink in 2005. As well as this, she has appeared on the Folk Songs series.

Success since Morning Musume: 7/10

Goto Maki
Graduated September 2002

As the lead in a great number of Morning Musume singles and as one of the most popular members Goto Maki almost guaranteed herself a place as a popular soloist. Since her graduation she has released twelve singles and four albums. She has also starred in two movies and various doramas. She has also been a member of Gomatto and Nochira Natsumi.

Success since Morning Musume: 9/10

Yasuda Kei
Graduated May 2003

Yasuda Kei was the first second generation Morning Musume member to graduate and has done strangely very little since she graduated. She was a reasonbly popular member of Morning Musume yet since her graduation has released no singles nor albums. She has colabarated on a few Folk Song albums and has sang back-up for one of Goto Maki’s singles. She has also MCed at events and participated in a few concerts, she was also in the shuffle group Puripuri Pink in 2005. She is best known for her days after Morning Musume for presenting Hello! Morning, however she no longer does so.

Success since Morning Musume: 4/10

Abe Natsumi
Graduated January 2004

Abe was the second member of Morning Musume to graduate and continue within Hello! Project. She has had a far more fruitful career than Nakazawa and has managed to remain reasonbly in the limelight. This is due to various causes. Firstly, while in Morning Musume it is fair to say that Natsumi was a popular member. She sang solo on various occasions and had a fan following. This of course aided her when loyal fans followed her to her solo career. It has also helped that Abe was placed into DEF.DIVA which scored her a #1 single with a new group, albeit sporadically releasing singles. Furthermore her being chosen for Morning Musume Tanjou 10 Nen Kinentai helped to keep her in the limelight. A few scandals also didn’t hurt her status as a Jpop idol.

Natsumi has released six singles since her graduation and soon will have released three albums. She has also appeared in various dramas and is a regular on Hello! Project TV shows and other music shows.

Success since Morning Musume: 8/10

Tsuji Nozomi
Graduated August 2004

Tsuji graduated in 2004 along with fellow Morning Musume member Kago Ai to concentrate on their own pop duo as W. As leader of W she released six singles and two albums. Due to Kago’s suspension for almost the whole of 2006, Tsuji’s career has also been affected as she can no longer function as W. She has however been kept busy and has appeared at concerts solo, has her own Internet TV show (Curious Nono) and has released a solo photobook. It is unknown if or when Kago will return, if she doesn’t the future for Tsuji is unknown.

Success since Morning Musume: 8/10

Kago Ai
Graduated August 2004

Like Tsuji, Kago graduated to concentrate on W. I won’t repeat all of W’s releases as there is little point in doing so. Due to her years suspension, Kago’s career since Morning Musume has taken a definite hit and her future within Hello! Project is unknown. There is certainly a demand for her return but as of February 2007 this has not been realised.

Success since Morning Musume: 4/10 (4 due to her suspension)

Iida Kaori
Graduated January 2005

Kaori has released no singles within Hello! Project since her graduation in 2005, she has however released an album. She has also released two albums outside of Hello! Project in which she sings covers of European songs in their original languages, the success of these albums however is sketchy. Kaori hasn’t appeared in any dramas since her graduation and ultimately has done very little. She is still a reasonably popular member however and was chosen to participate in Morning Musume Tanjō 10 Nen Kinentai.

Success since Morning Musume: 5/10

Yaguchi Mari
Graduated April 2005

As an emmensly popular member of Morning Musume, it was thought that Yaguchi’s solo career would work out well, however as of February 2007 this has not been the case. Possibly due to the way in which she left Morning Musume (she had been discovered to have a boyfriend) has affected her solo music career. It would seem that UFA have been a little cold towards Mari in that she has released no singles or albums since her graduation, and being that she was never a soloist before Morning Musume, she has no solo ventures under her belt. Her only Musical venture since Morning Musume has been a collaboration with Berryz Koubou on a b-side of one of their singles.

Yaguchi has had a fairly fruitful career hosting her show, Yaguchi Hitori and MCing at Hello! Project events. From May 25th – June 6th 2008 Yaguchi will star in a Japanese version of the American stage story Damn Yankees. Her first solo release is currently in the works.

Success since Morning Musume: 7/10

Ishikawa Rika
Graduated May 2005

Ishikawa graduated from Morning Musume in May 2005 to concentrate on the then new group Biyuden which she fronted. Since then she has appeared frequently on Hello! Morning as well as numerous other television shows. She has also participated in DEF.DIVA and Ecomoni. She has released six singles with Biyuden and one album and appears frequently at Hello! Project concerts as well as having a Biyuden concert.

Success since Morning Musume: 9/10

Ogawa Makoto
Graduated August 2006

Makoto graduated August 2006 to study English abroad, however she has not left Hello! Project and plans to eventually return to it.

Success since Morning Musume: ???

Yoshizawa Hitomi
Graduates May 2007

Hitomi plans to remain a member of Hello! Project after her graduation this coming May. Under what preface she plans to remain a member is unknown. I like Hitomi as a member of Morning Musume as I believe she balances out the cutesy image. However, I do wonder what she will after Morning Musume as she was never a featured singer nor a pin-up member. I wish her luck.