avex joins the bandwagon
Apparently it wasn’t enough that Johnny’s gave Akanishi Jin an undefined hiatus from KAT-TUN and cut Kusano Hironori and Uchi Hiroki from NEWS.
Apparently it wasn’t enough that Hello!Project has had far too many scandals and leavings this past month. (Kago Ai getting caught again, Tsuji Nozomi being pregnant, Yoshizawa Hitomi’s graduation, and Fujimoto Miki’s “scandal”-caused leaving.)
avex has decided to toss their hat in the ring with their own news.
On the bright side, AAA will be continuing their activities. (According to the notice, for a good while.)
On the downside, they’re doing it without their sexiest member. (Clearly.)
Fan outcry against avex is being sort of ridiculous, so I’m not going to say anything on that. (Sure, they removed her from the site – but she’s not part of the group anymore. Of course they’re going to remove her. Just be glad avex isn’t like Johnny’s. Yet.) In my own way, I’m sad Yukari’s leaving – because she’s my third-favorite member, and my favorite girl member out of the entire 8-person group.
But this was also supposedly a decision literally for her own good, due to health problems, and nothing should really hamper that. Sure, I’d like it if she ended up coming back, but this seems to have been done on relatively good and legitimate terms, since she was mentioned in the blog entries of the group during her second hiatus before this sudden announcement. And besides, I’d much rather imagine Yukarin going out with a smile. Like in the picture from 3rd ATTACK @ Budoukan above.
I’ve been a fan of the group since their first release. BLOOD on FIRE, way back in September 2005. (Falling in love with Urata at first sight is clearly something I won’t forget, but has nothing to do with Yukari.) I remember how ecstatic I was when I discovered their second single, Friday Party, was going to be released on my birthday. (It remains one of my favorite singles to date.) I remember eagerly promoting each successive single and release even as others tired of them and me fangirling about them.
I remember the first time I saw Yukari.
Every member in AAA has a presence, a role. It’s why the moniker “ATTACK ALL AROUND” suits them so well. (And I say all this knowing my age is right around the same range as the group’s members.) Nishijima Takahiro is clearly the pretty boy frontman of the group. He’s the one girls want to put in drag, just to see how much prettier than them he would be, and the girls? Wouldn’t get jealous. At all. Urata Naoya is the leader, but his appeal is that of the older, mature person. Sure, he has his odd moments where he seems desperate to fit in with the younger-by-at-least-4-years members of the group, but it’s his silliness in those situations that make you accept it. Uno Misako is the girl next door, sweet, lovely, and the all-around female – intelligent, talented, and pretty. If this were a dating sim, she would be your childhood friend, the one you were supposed to get at the end. Hidaka Mitsuhiro is the one you expect to be both streetwise and funny, the hip-hop class clown. He’s not afraid to sacrifice himself for a laugh (for example, the bowling challenge on channel-a), but in his serious moments, he can be downright sexy. Atae Shinjiro has the younger, innocent boy appeal – there’s a reason shotacon has its niche in Japan. He uses both his hardworking image and his cute mannerisms to his advantage. Sueyoshi Shuuta needs no words, just his almost ridiculously sexy body – though his looks have been reminding me of Jackie Chan a bit. And while he does like to joke around in all his shortness, he’s the strong-and-silent type. Ito Chiaki is practically a literal doll – adorable and ready to be dressed up in anything, and still look good. Of course, that model past of hers helps.
And Gotou Yukari? Yukari was fanservice. She knew it, and she knew how to work it without completely throwing herself at the audience, being cute at the right times and sexy at the others. Her voice wasn’t the best, but it had power and confidence – and when she was really smiling, you could tell. Yukari didn’t get much parts, but when she did, she shone.
When she started out with AAA’s first release, she was practically a wallflower in front of the camera. You could see it in the performances, in the photos (I have a JUNON magazine with pictures from both AAA’s debut and the group a year later, and the difference for her is vivid.), and her presence wasn’t anything in the videos (until she shoved her boobs at the camera in DRAGON FIRE). Admittedly, you could blame a part of that on avex for not having yet decided her role in the group beyond that of “dancer” at that point in time. But I look at the BLOOD on FIRE video now and wonder how the girl who just stands there showing off her flexibility but not her face could be the same Yukari who, about a third of a year later and during AAA’s first concert, was seriously getting the crowd going during Get or Lose.
It sort of – actually, no, it really does – pain me to use the past tense, especially since she’s clearly still alive, but that’s the way the situation seems to be with avex. But if anything, she’s also a tribute to the transformation magic avex can work.
Before I go off-topic… I’m going to miss those boobs. Yeah. Look, they were hot, okay? Besides, though she didn’t get much parts in songs, it’s still going to take a while to get used to AAA without her. Especially since for me, this is the first time something like this has happened for a group I absolutely adored.
But whatever happens to Yukari and AAA next, at the very least, I hope they all stay in good health. Let’s not give Kimi any more attempts at heartbreak, okay? Okay.