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“Haru became strong!” Morning Musume.’17 Haruka Kudo Graduation Concert Special LiveReport

ーハル、強くなりました!ー モーニング娘。誕生20周年記念コンサートツアー2017秋 ~We are MORNING MUSUME。~ 工藤遥卒業スペシャル ライブレポート
| Idol | Posted
“Haru became strong!” Morning Musume.’17 Haruka Kudo Graduation Concert Special LiveReport

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On December 11 2017, Morning Musume.’17 descended on Nippon Budokan to perform the final leg of their tour—“Morning Musume. 20th Anniversary Concert Tour 2017 Fall ~We are MORNING MUSUME.~ Haruka Kudo Graduation Special”. With the conclusion of the final two concerts, 10th generation member Haruka Kudo graduated from Morning Musume. and Hello! Project.

They kicked off the performance with “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke”, before breaking into a 4-song medley including their new song “Narcissus Kamatte-chan Kyousoukyoku Dai 5ban”. Kudo’s eyes glistened like her tears would spill over any moment, yet her expression was overflowing with determination. Working in harmony with her resolve, the other members also brought the heat to their performance. They reverberated with passion and the desire to send their beloved teammate off with all their power.

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The mood instantly changed with their live rendition of “Jama Shinaide Here We go!”. The sorrowful sound of the minor chords brought to mind the reality of Kudo’s graduation. “CHO DAI” followed immediately after and as they sang the lyrics, “I need to take off and break free from the reality I’d been avoiding”, it drew out feelings of vulnerability. Morning Musume. vividly flaunted their strength in capturing their emotions in song and dance.

The concert steadily progressed with no sense of lingering. The middle part of the concert began with the song that Morning Musume.’s history began with—“Ai no Tane”—and continued with their hits over the last 20 years including “Night of Tokyo City” and “Mikan”. The concert was bursting with love for both Morning Musume and Hello! Project. When Ikuta, Kudo and Makino emerged in male attire, the audience exploded in response and the stage burst into song with “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Bang~”. Kudo directed the famous line “Surely, you fell in love with me when we meet” at her biggest fan, youngest member Haga. Haga was charmingly shy and full of happiness during this precious moment.

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Then a special guest arrived—Ayaka Wada came onto stage and presented Kudo with a flower bouqet and a letter.

Ayaka Wada: “Kuduu, congratulations on your graduation. When I became a part of S/mileage, you debuted at my graduation from the trainees. That was our first meeting. I can’t recall much, but the S/mileage gave everyone socks as a farewell gift. It’s been 7 years since then. It’s so emotional to think of Kuduu graduating from Hello! Project before me. The first time I saw you I thought I was looking at an angel with big, round eyes. You were such a cute little girl (laughs). It’s unbelievable to think that such an adorable girl grew up to become the ikemen (translation: handsome guy) of Hello! Project who made so many members fall for you. Even I’m one of them who fell for you, when we worked together with Morning Musume. ‘14 on the stage play Lilium (laughs). Working with you and seeing your acting up close gave me incredible motivation. When Kuduu’s acting your eyes are amazingly cool and shine with so much expression. This might sound strange, but when I heard you were going to become actor I was happy to think I could see Kuduu in lots of different roles. It’s sad to see you graduate but I’m honestly looking forward to seeing you become an actor, though I think it’ll be a lot of hard work for the Kuduu who’s grown up in the spotlight. I believe and hope that the members will give you their support. Everyone in Hello! Project will definitely be cheering you on. Please graduate without any worries, and come back to find us if you ever need comfort. Congratulations on your graduation.”

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The group then proceeded with a medley including their 20th anniversary digital single “Gosenfu no Tasuki” and “Koi wa Toki ni” from their new album “⑮ Thank you, too”. In the second song “Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai”, Ishida sang the lines “My eyes shone because of you/Just hearing about the future you told me, my chest gets warm and I felt like crying”. Her eyes filled with tears as she sang, as if she was expressing her feelings from hearing about Kudo’s graduation. During “What’s Up? Ai wa Dou Nanoyo~”, Kudo’s line “There is love right here” corresponded with the love of the 12000 fans in the audience as the girls sang before them. They continued onto “NATURE IS GOOD”, sending Kudo a yell of support as she spread her wings toward a new dream. She faced a new path, much like the future symbolized in the following song “Be Alive”.

Moving to the center stage, the 14 members formed a ring and sang of their unending friendship as they performed the song “Tomo” with all their heart. Being a member of Morning Musume is clearly not an easy road. It is only because they worked hard through the suffering together that they could stand in Budokan, steeped in orange lights. There might be no better word than “tomo” to describe these 14 people. They proceeded to belt out a series of songs representative of Morning Musume’s legacy—“Jealousy Jealousy”, “One Two Three (Updated”, Kudo’s first center song “Oh! My Wish!” and “Dokkan Capriccio”. The crowd was on fire, immersed in a whirlpool of excitement.

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The main part of the concert capped off with “ENDLESS SKY”. With tears in their eyes, the members conveyed their feelings to Kudo through song. Kudo, at the young age of 18, was leaving the group to pursue her dreams of acting. “I’m not going to cry, I shouldn’t be crying/I chose this future”—the lyrics mixed with reality—“but I’m frustrated/I can’t stop crying”. With a tearful voice, Kudo’s fleetingly heartrending figure raised goosebumps. With a radiant smile, she stepped off the stage.


Budokan became awashed in orange light, reverberating as they chanted “Haruka”. A standing microphone stood atop the stage. No matter how many times it’d been done before, it is a sight that one never quite gets used to. Finally, Kudo emerged for the ceremony in a lovely orange dress with wings, and slowly began to read her letter of gratitude to the fans.

Kudo: “As of today, December 11 2017, I’m graduating from Morning Musume. as well as Hello! Project. I’ve written a letter to everyone, so please let me read it out. First of all, I want to thank everyone who supported me and allowed me to be an idol for 6 years. Thank you for everything up till now! Meeting everyone, receiving so much love, finding the best friends I could have from those 13 members—I think it’s all a miracle. There was never a moment I didn’t think of how grateful I was to receive so much support and thoughts. Thank you so much. When I announced my graduation, I didn’t think it’d be so sad since I’d still be in this industry. But I realized that wasn’t the case, and realized how special it was to be an idol in Morning Musume. It was everyone that made me feel so special. Thank you. I want to be self-deprecating, but everyone’s too kind to me. And so, today I won’t say such things! I can confidently say that I’m loved and made special by all of you. Everyone tells me to become the happiest person in the world after I graduate. Roger that! I’ll become the happiest person. Even now I’m so full of joy; isn’t it greedy to want more? But I’ll seize even more happiness, and return it to everyone! So all of you, please find your own happiness too. Right now, there are lots of young actresses. Maybe it isn’t necessary for me to jump into that world, but I decided that I have to try what I want to do. I’ll do my best to become recognized as an actress, and still have everyone remember my time as an idol. No matter how long it takes, I’ll work hard to achieve that. My next dream is to have Morning Musume. sing the theme song for my acting work. I might get called a big mouse again, but I want to confidently proclaim this. I’ll be fine because I have so many supporters! I’m not a weak child anymore! Haru became strong! Today I bid farewell as Haruka Kudo the idol, but I’ll return soon to greet everyone as Haruka Kudo the actress. Please take care of me then too!”

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With endless gratitude ringing in her voice, the opening of Kudo’s solo song resounded around Budokan. For her final song, she had chosen “Moshimo…” from Hello! Project’s Mobekimasu days. With wings on her back, Kudo was just like an angel lavishing the stadium with her bright smile just like the sun. She wasn’t Morning Musume.’s handsome member, but just a girl, an actress showing her charm to the world. As she smiled bashfully, her 13 comrades reappeared on stage to deliver their messages of appreciation to Kudo.

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Author
ykmk
ykmk

Growing up in Akihabara culture, ykmk became an otaku covering idol, anime, and pop music.

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