Karin Miyamoto to graduate Juice=Juice and Hello! Project.
Juice=Juice ace Karin Miyamoto has announced her intention to graduate from the group and Hello! Project following completion of J=J’s Spring tour. Reasons given for wishing to leave the group were many and varied, including the desire to be a solo artist, interests in DIY craft-work and interior design, and getting in touch with nature. Check out @IceJiggly’s translation of press releases from both Miyamoto and Up-Front Promotion on Twitter.
I think most fans suspected this was coming, although I expected Tomoko Kanazawa — who will turn 25 in July — to graduate first. Karin began dipping her toes in the soloist waters last October, which is usually a red flag that graduation is on the horizon. I wonder if her history of health issues might have played a part in her decision to move on, and if the rigors of idol life left her wanting a slower pace of life overall. Neither Karin nor Up-Front has even hinted at that, but based on the wide variety of post-grad desires she lists, it’s likely that her solo entertainment career will not be as serious as those of Airi Suzuki or Meimi Tamura. Whatever form it takes, though, I’ll be here for it.
As for Juice=Juice, they’re set up about as well as a group can be for the loss of arguably their most important cog, as Karin has been J=J’s center and most popular member since the group’s inception seven years ago. They are a rare idol group which carries no dead weight, from their experienced core of original members all the way down to the talented teen young-guns added last year. One would expect rising star Ruru Dambara to pick up the bulk of the load left by Miyamoto’s departure, which will in turn create opportunities for Yume Kudo and Riai Matsunaga to establish themselves within the group.
The Circle of Idol Life is a wheel of fortune for the fans, a leap of faith that your favorites will last the year, but as much a I hate to see Karin’s graduation, it’s one that’s easier to accept than others. It feels like a natural life’s progression for her as opposed to the unforced errors of the early Kobushi Factory firings, or Angerme’s recent self-purge. Through seven years as one of H!P’s most talented and engaging idols, Karin will leave a legacy matched by only a handful of her peers, and she has earned the right to begin living life on her own terms.