On the Occasion of Haruna Ogata’s Graduation

I goofed on Ogata earlier by pinning my old “what you wanted/what you’d accept/what you got” joke about her to the top of the blog.  It’s funny, because it’s true, but it’s also sad because it’s true. I mean Haruna no ill-will, and I wish nothing but the best for her in whatever it is she chooses to do, but I’m not going to miss her in Morning Musume.

Haruna Ogata represents everything that I’ve come to despise about the modern J-idol scene: the cute girl with no discernible talents. Oh, I was excited when she was picked as a member of the 12th generation, like a lot of MM fans, based on her silly Twitter photos that seemed to show a kooky goof-ball teeming with personality-to-burn. We all heard her auditions, but we were willing to add yet another tin-ear to a growing group of tin-ears if it meant a shake-up to what felt like a stale, listless group. Plus, she was a figure skater, so obviously she was at least a passable dancer, right? Right?

She was not, as it turns out. Nor was she the wacky life-of-the-party we thought she’d be. She was just sort of there, timidly and awkwardly getting in the way, fucking up songs and dance formations like it was what they hired her to do. Haruna did nothing well enough to be called even below-average, and while I feel bad for her personally, this is what Morning Musume needs, and they need more of it. MM needs to start moving out the weak-links, because they’re not even a good dance group anymore. I want good Morning Musume back. It’s to the point where I’m happy that they’re getting all the boring songs if that means the better groups (read: all the other groups) might have a shot at better material. I don’t like feeling this way about the group that got me hooked on J-pop.

I love how ANGERME pulled themselves up from the depths of insignificance to become the best group in H!P, and I love how Juice=Juice appears to be following the ANGERME blueprint. I love how Tsubaki Factory has defied all odds and worked to become a fun, if flawed, idol group. And I love how Kobushi Factory has seemingly weathered a brutal near group-seppuku to emerge tighter and more focused than ever. All of these groups are more fun and more interesting than Morning Musume because some genius thought that packing a legendary idol group with girls who can neither sing nor dance was a brilliant plan. It’s not supposed to be like this. Morning Musume is the fucking Flagship, and is supposed to kick everyone else’s asses at everything. The current model needs to change, and Haruna’s departure needs to be the start of a short march through the dregs of Morning Musume.

My lasting impression of Ogata will always be the extent to which she over-compensates for her lack of energy (which she had been publicly called out for by management) in the announcement video for MM’17’s Hong Kong trip .

I mean, hey, at least she tried. But the fact that she couldn’t even pull-off energetic without embarrassing herself pretty much sums up the Haruna Ogata era. All the best to Haruna, and I hope she finds something that she loves to do and is honestly good at. Being an idol was not that thing.

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