Kamei Eri, JunJun & LinLin's Graduation from Morning Musume。

live report - 12.27.2010 19:01

Before leaving Morning Musume。, Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin joined the other five girls one last time for their ~Rival Survival~ tour final.

Last August, there was bad news for Morning Musume。 fans. It was announced that not one, but three of the girls would “graduate” from the idol group and Hello!Project. The sixth generation member Kamei Eri would leave due to health problems and the eighth generation members LinLin and JunJun are going to pursue a career in their home country, China. The tour final of Concert Tour 2010 Autumn ~Rival Survival~, which took place on December 15 in Yokohama Arena, was dedicated to the three girls, marking their "graduation."

Fans were still entering the venue when the lights were turned off without any warning. The four girls of the Hello!Project group S/mileage entered the stage in white dresses. The fans that were already present got up and jumped along to the music. After the song was finished, S/mileage spoke briefly about the memories they had with the three Morning Musume。 girls that were set to leave. After the second song Onaji jikyuu de hataraku tomodachi no bijin mama, their latest single which had lots of rocking guitars in it, the girls left the stage and the lights came on again.

The venue was almost completely filled with anxious fans who couldn’t wait for the main act to start. The audience consisted mostly of men of all ages, but there were also women and some young children. The fans, especially those in the center, were wearing t-shirts in the color that matched their favorite Morning Musume。 member. After a few more minutes the lights went out and an intro started, followed by loud screams coming from the arena. All the stage lights were off, but the colorful light sticks held up by the audience lit up the venue. Suddenly, big fire beams exploded on the dark stage and the eight girls launched into Souda ! We’re Alive. The song from 2002 was perfect to cheer the audience on and shout along to.

During the first two songs, the girls were all wearing short uniforms in either green or white with red details. From the middle of the stage, a long catwalk reached into the center of the arena. Halfway through the second song, smoke pillars rose from each side of the catwalk as the girls danced their way to the end.

As the girls went backstage to change into a different outfit, a presentation video for their ~Rival Survival~ tour was shown on the screens behind and next to the stage. When they returned, they were wearing the costumes used in the promotional video of Appare Kaiten Zushi !. The song was met by loud cheers from the crowd.

Tsuyoki de ikouze ! had the audience screaming “Oi!” almost louder than the music. The girls jumped along to the rocky tune, spreading out over the catwalk and cheering the crowd on even more by raising their fists in the air. One of the members even knelt down and did an air guitar solo. A medley of four songs followed, during which Mitsui Aika, Tanaka Reina and Michishige Sayumi each sang a solo part. Usually, when all eight of them are singing together, their voices mix and it’s difficult to hear the individual ones. But thanks to these solos, they could really show off their individual vocal talent. The stage was covered in different colors of light, just like the crowd and their light sticks.

Later that evening, there were more solo songs, such as Niigaki Risa’s Yuugure Sakusen Kaigi. In the beginning her voice sounded a bit strained, but that quickly changed and emotion could be heard and seen. Takahashi Ai’s Suppin to Namida was flawless and it was clear that she is a great singer and artist.

After the two solo songs, it was time for one of the emotional parts of the evening: the graduation speeches of Eri, JunJun and LinLin.

LinLin was wearing a white dress with feathers and a matching hat. As she entered the stage, the crowd started screaming her name. She read out a letter, talking about her memories with Morning Musume。 and about being thankful for being part of the group. She ended her speech with “I promise I’ll be happy!” and then continued with the solo song Watarasebashi.

JunJun wore a red dress. While reading her letter she sniffed every now and then. Halfway through she was overwhelmed by emotion and her voice became weak. She regained composure quickly and finished her graduation speech with the song Furusato.

Just like the previous girls, Eri also read out a letter. She was wearing a pink and yellow dress and a crown-style hat. She was also emotional and had to swallow back tears a few times. While singing Haru Beautiful Everyday, she clapped her hands to cheer the crowd on.

Eri had quickly changed her outfit to join the other seven girls for the song Seishun Collection, released earlier this year and used as the theme song for the musical Fashionable, starring Morning Musume。. Odore ! Morning Curry was a chaotic song and the quickly changing lightshow and psychedelic images shown on the screens matched the music perfectly. Despite the chaos, the girls worked very well together vocal-wise. The crowd was jumping and singing along. Throughout the night, the audience was very enthusiastic and participated actively in the show. During some songs, such as 3, 2, 1 BREAKIN’OUT, so many people jumped that the entire venue shook and it felt like Yokohama was being hit by an earthquake.

The last song the girls were going to perform was Tomo, the song that was picked as the theme song of the Japan Expo event in Paris, France, where the group had performed earlier this year. Towards the end, the girls put their arms around each other’s shoulders and sang as one. They waved at their fans and left the stage.

The venue was filled with cheers and Morning Musume。 quickly returned to perform their newest single, Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game. After this, it was time for the main part of the show: the graduation ceremony. The three departing girls waited in the center of the stage as the others lined up on the left side, holding flowers. One by one the other five girls stepped forward and said their farewell words to Eri, JunJun and LinLin. Lots of tears were shed, not only by the members on stage, but also by some of the fans. Some girls had trouble speaking through their tears, but were cheered on by the audience. Despite the tears, lots of jokes were made while talking about their memories. As everyone had said their words, the group launched into Ame no furanai hoshi dewa aisenai daro?, Eri, JunJun and LinLin still carrying the flowers they received.

Two more songs followed and during Namidacchi, glittery ribbons leapt into the audience. This song was a perfect ending for the night, starting calmly but soon bursting into a cheerful, upbeat melody, summarizing the mixed feelings of the night in one song. The last chorus was sung just by the fans, the girls remaining silent. After that, the girls walked one round across the venue, waving at people in every corner of the big hall. They left the stage thanking everyone.

Shouts for an encore rose from the crowd, but no more songs were sung. However, Eri, JunJun and LinLin returned for a moment to wave at their fans for one last time.

Even though the competition in the female idol scene is getting tougher, this night proved that Morning Musume。 is as strong as ever and has a solid fanbase. For the first time since their debut, Morning Musume。 is down to “just” five members again. The search for the 9th generation has been started though!

Set list

01. Souda ! We’re Alive
02. Hand Made City
03. Appare Kaiten Zushi !
04. Nakidasu Kamo Shirenai yo
05. Onna ga Medatte naze Ikenai
06. Tsuyoki de ikouze !
07. Medley:
a. Watashi No Miryoku ni Kizukanai Donkan na Hito (Mitsui Aika solo with JunJun & LinLin as backdancers)
b. Kira Kira Fuyu no Shiny G (Tanaka Reina solo)
c. Its You (Michishige Sayumi solo with Takahashi Ai & Kamei Eri as backdancers)
d. Genki Pika Pika
08. Aisaresugiru koto wa nai no yo
09. Ooki Hitomi (Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina)
10. Yuugure Sakusen Kaigi (Niigaki Risa solo)
11. Suppin to Namida (Takahashi Ai solo)

Graduation Speeches
12. LinLin's graduation speech and solo Watarasebashi
13. JunJun's graduation speech and solo Furusato
14. Kamei Eri's graduation speech and solo Haru Beautiful Everyday

15. Seishun Collection
16. Kimagure Princess
17. Odore ! Morning Curry
18. 3, 2, 1 BREAKIN’OUT
19. Guruguru JUMP !
20. Tomo

EN 1. Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game

Graduation Ceremony

EN 2. Ame no furanai hoshi dewa aisenai daro?
EN 3. Ai Araba It’s All Right
EN 4. Namidacchi
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