Elder Club to Graduate (2009-03-31)

22人ハロプロ卒業!!!

As I’m sure you’re all well aware Hello! Project’s Elder Club is to graduate as a whole. This means that all of Hello! Project’s original members as well as some of the most established members will graduate and leave Hello! Project in the hands of Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou and C-ute.

The graduation will take place on 2009-03-31 just over two months after their winter tour. The complete list of those graduating is as follows;

  • Nakazawa Yuko
  • Iida Kaori
  • Abe Natsumi
  • Yasuda Kei
  • Yaguchi Mari
  • Ishikawa Rika
  • Yoshizawa Hitomi
  • Tsuji Nozomi
  • Konno Asami
  • Ogawa Makoto
  • Fujimoto Miki
  • Inaba Atsuko
  • Satoda Mai
  • Melon Kinenbi
  • Maeda Yuki
  • Matsuura Aya
  • Miyoshi Erika
  • Okada Yui
  • Ongaku Gatas (Perhaps not the Hello! Pro Egg members?)

I’m obviously quite shocked by this news as this constitutes a substantial breakdown of Hello! Project leaving the “label” with fewer than 30 artists, not including the Hello! Pro Egg members of course.

As for the future of the graduates the news is right now that all of them will remain under the Up-Front umbrella, perhaps on different labels. The general idea is that graduating will enable all of the “older” artists to break free of the idol sterotype Hello! Project has given them and allow them to grow as artists. I can’t personally see soloists such as Inaba Atsuko or Nakazawa Yuko suddenly having flourishing solo careers but nevertheless this could be a positive move. Artists such as Satoda Mai, Ishikawa Rika and Yoshizawa Hitomi have already been involved in non-Hello! Project ventures so this may not pose much of a change for them.

Of course Ongaku Gatas will be disolved in March after a somewhat shaky year as a group, I can’t say I’m too upset by Ongaku Gatas’ disbandment as their music never greatly appealed to me, HANGRY & ANGRY on the other hand are quite interesting.

Fujimoto Miki and Ogawa Makoto are already part of a new company(?) called J.P ROOM which of course is under UFG. Rather interestingly TNX’s Tokito Ami and Wonderful Hearts member Mano Erina are also listed as talents, does this mean Tokito is leaving TNX and Mano is also graduating from Hello! Project?

I’m not sure what the future holds for Hello! Project but I have a feeling the winners of the Taiwan New Star Auditions might have something to do with it. Will we see mass auditions next year? Who knows?

One last thing; Hello! Project without Matsuura Aya?!