Noteworthy

Maeda Yuuka To Graduate From Hello! Project At End Of Year; S/mileage Officially Fucked

yuukarelaxing

Maeda Yuuka to graduate from S/mileage and Hello! Project… – Idols and Hollywood
Maeda Yuuka to Graduate Hello! Project 31st December 2011 – Morningtime
Yuuka Maeda to Graduate from Hello! Project – yonasu.com
FUCKIN’ TROLLZ! – The Graduation Troll Lurks – Okay! Musume Time
Hello! Project – The Changes of 2011 and Potential Graduations – Okay! Musume Time
Another Smileage Member Makes Like a Tree – New School Kaidan
Maeda Yuuka to Graduate – Bikkuri Project
Maeda Yuuka to Graduate from S/mileage?! – Happy! Go! Lucky!
Another one bites the dust – fly in the f*ing wine
Maeda Yuuka To Graduate From S/mileage and Hello! Project – Hello! SayuNii

Well, THIS came as a huge surprise: Maeda Yuuka will be graduating at the end of the year. Ogawa Saki had left several months ago, and this will leave only two of the original S/mileage members if true.

Most of the posts listed above are just stating an immediate reaction of surprise and dismay for S/mileage, with varying levels of personal fandom angst and ironic snark mixed in per blogger’s personality. There’s some questions about what UFA is doing to drive the girls away so quickly, and a lot of suspicion that the reason being given – that Yuuka wants to focus on getting into a university – may not be the real or only reason. Those who DO believe this reason wish her the best, of course, and affirm her right to make such a choice. There’s some talk that a new round of S/mileage auditions will take place early next year – though whether that CAUSED Yuuka’s runner or RESULTED from it, is not clear.

Hello! SayuNii has the official statement from Yuuka herself. Celestia of Bikkuri Project points out that Yuuka is far and away the most popular member of S/mileage, which may mean an opportunity for Kanon and Wada to take the reins or the start of a decline in the group’s overall popularity. Morningtime does us the favor of posting lots of Maeda eyecandy so that we better realize what it is we won’t be able to fap to in 2012. Chiima of Okay! Musume Time decides to have a good rant in her first post, then have a more studied examination in the second post. New School Kaidan’s Dae Lee has some theories about how the idyll of the original S/mileage was shattered by the auditions and made the girls question what they’re there for in the first place.

I must admit, personally I’m mildly upset – Yuuka is far and away my favorite H!P member right now, even if I don’t have any particular fondness for S/mileage. It’s not clear if she’s definitely leaving the idol industry or will be doing an occasional photobook (which is much more important to me) to help pay for the schoolbooks.

And despite the above headline, I’m not COMPLETELY sure that S/mileage is fucked without Yuuka. But it sure feels that way, not just because of her popularity but because the stability of the group had already been compromised by Sakitty’s departure and this can’t help but cast an air of doom and foreboding on the group. There’ll be at least a whisper of “what’s wrong with that unit” – okay, more than a whisper, but one wonders if the timing of the departure won’t leave a taint on the group as much as anything else. The radical change in Morning Musume’s line-up was seen as a much-needed reinvigoration; I’m thinking the same can’t be sad by anyone of S/mileage post-Yuuka.

One thing’s for sure – this has been quite a year for Hello! Project, and we’ve still got a couple months left. Maybe it’s time to set up a deadpool or something.