Thank You and Good Bye: Significant Departures From the Idol World in 2016

| Idol | Posted
Thank You and Good Bye: Significant Departures From the Idol World in 2016

Sponsored Links

2016 was a year of considerable changes in the world of Japanese idols, as the words “important announcement” (taisetsu na oshirase) seemed to appear almost daily, signaling the impending graduation of a beloved member or the disbandment of a group. As the “idol warring states period” (aidoru sengoku jidai) escalated and many young women found themselves at the crossroads of their lives, the events of 2016 will not soon be forgotten.

While it would be impossible to go over in detail about each and every departure, some of the major ones will be discussed. We apologize in advance if your favorites may have been overlooked.

Haruna Kojima – AKB48


One of the last remaining 1st generation members of AKB48 and the eldest of all the 48/46 groups, “Kojiharu” announced her graduation in grand fashion from the stage of Hard Off Eco Stadium Niigata after revealing that Nyan Nyan Kamen was her all along.

Haruka Shimazaki – AKB48


Despite being known for her “ponkotsu” character and “salty” treatment of fans, “Paruru” was one of the most popular members of AKB48 during her 7 years with the group. There are not enough words to express how much she meant to so many people all over the world.

Sae Miyazawa – SKE48


The energetic and cheerful Sae Miyazawa made sure to go out smiling as she brought the curtain down on her 10 years as an idol with 2 days at Gaishi Hall in Nagoya. However, the miracle of her unit song “Kiseki wa Maniawanai” getting the top spot in Request Hour Setlist Best 100 2016 and the beautiful graduation song “Tabi no Tochuu” featuring all the members of original Team K made for some tearful final moments as well.

Aya Shibata – SKE48


Even though she teased fans as to whether or not she would cry during her final performance at the SKE48 Theater on August 31st, “Ayachan” smiled through her tears as the 6 year long chapter of her life in SKE48 came to a close. At least with her working hard to become a television personality, her bright smile will not be disappearing from the public eye for a little while more.

Ayaka Umeda – NMB48


Fellow original Team K member Ayaka Umeda also made her departure after a decade of being an idol, making her announcement right before “Dakishimecha Ikenai”, the Undergirls song which she centered in 2011 at Request Hour Setlist Best 100 2016. Appearing on many different broadcast and web shows since her graduation, “Ume-chan” doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, which is a good thing.

Kana Kobayashi – AKB48


With Kana Kobayashi also announcing her graduation at Request Hour Setlist Best 100 2016 after her trademark song “Kurukurupaー” which ranked at #26. Ending on the 10th anniversary of becoming an idol, the first day of April also brought with it the end of original Team K. Although she was not one of the more popular members of AKB48, Kana’s legacy with her record-high of 899 theater performances will probably never be broken.

Miyuki Watanabe – NMB48


Founding member of NMB48 and one of the faces of the group alongside Sayaka Yamamoto, Miyuki Watanabe’s graduation cut deeply. NMB48’s 15th single “Boku wa Inai” combined with the SayaMirukii duet “Ima Naraba” were bookended by her 2 day graduation concert at World Memorial Hall in July and her final NMB48 Theater performance in August.

Haruka Nagakawa – JKT48


Just days after Aki Takajo, who was transferred to JKT48 back with her in 2012, graduated from AKB48, Haruka Nakagawa delivered some devastating news of her own during the group’s Request Hour in Jakarta. Following the grand finale of her graduation concert which coincided with JKT48’s 5th anniversary, Haruka’s decade of being an idol ended wonderfully. Having embraced her international experience by learning Bahasa and risen to the 7th most influential woman on Twitter worldwide, perhaps the sadness of losing “JKT48’s legend” can be replaced by the anticipation of what she will do in 2017 and beyond?

Kanon Suzuki – Morning Musume.’16


Having brightened the lives of thousands with her smile since joining Morning Musume. as a 9th generation member in 2011, Kanon Suzuki made her decision to graduate from the group in order to help the less fortunate and devoting herself to a career in welfare. Emotions ran high as Nippon Budokan was filled with the glow of green cyalumes for her graduation concert on May 31st.

Meimi Tamura – ANGERME


Following the graduation concert of Kanon Fukuda in November of 2015, Meimi Tamura’s graduation announcement, was not easy to take, even though it was because she wanted to pursue her dreams of becoming a musical actress. The curtain on her days as an idol came down with ANGERME giving an electrifying performance for her graduation concert at Nippon Budokan.

Momoko Tsugunaga – Country Girls


Even though “Momochi” had been an idol as a member of Berryz Kobo and Country Girls for more than half her life, her announcing her graduation from Country Girls and Hello! Project to pursue her dreams of becoming a teacher was news that made the return of Buono! that much more bittersweet. Even though Miyabi Natsuyaki would be keeping the spirit of Berryz Kobo alive in the form of her new group PINK CRES., the Hello! Project Kids era will come to a close in 2017.

Nanami Hashimoto – Nogizaka46


As one of the founding members who appeared in all the group’s singles as a “fukujin”, and a CanCam model, Nanami Hashimoto was one of the most recognizable faces of Nogizaka46. Her graduation is a considerable loss for the group. Unlike Seira Nagashima and Mai Fukagawa, who also graduated in 2016, Nanami will also be retiring from the entertainment industry as well.

Yuzu Ando – Team Syachihoko


Despite the strong belief of manager Minehiko Hasegawa that Yuzu Ando would return when her hiatus due to vertigo was changed from temporary to indefinite in February of 2016, her return was not to be realized as her graduation from Team Syachihoko on September 29th of the same year. Hopes seemed to linger even when the group released the MV for “ULTRA Cho MIRACLE SUPER VERY POWER BALL” as the pink Power Ball appeared to save the day.

Ladybeard – LADYBABY


After taking the world by storm in 2015 with live performances in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany on the success of “Nippon Manju”, LADYBABY was dealt heavy damage when it was revealed that their charismatic vocalist Ladybeard would leave the group at the beginning of August. While Rei Kuromiya and Rie Kaneko made a comeback under the name The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY in September at Ebisu LIQUIDROOM which brought with it news of their major label debut with KING RECORDS, having “lightning strike again” like it did when they were a trio before will not be an easy task.

Marina Nagasawa – Houkago Princess


The story of Marina Nagasawa as a member of Houkago Princess took an unexpected turn when she suddenly announced that she would be graduating from the group at the end of 2016, accompanied by additional news that the Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya/Fukuoka tour planned for the following spring being cancelled. Having worked steadily for more than 3 years, it seems that she still had difficulties getting up to speed with the other members.

Rino Katsuta and Reira Arai – SUPER☆GiRLS


With iDOL Street groups already hit by the 2-year study abroad announcements of Mariya Suzuki and Marin Yamamoto (Cheeky Parade) and Maaya Takeda (GEM), Rino and Reira’s departures solidified 2016 as a rebuilding year. Since iDOL Street Carnival on June 25th, Rino has been in Boston and Reira completed a marathon.

Emiri Otani and Ami Iseki – Akishibu project

Even as Akishibu project was raising their performance abilities, breaking through to bigger venues in Japan and expending their activities overseas, the graduations of Emiri Otani (April) and Ami Iseki (October) were considerable losses to the group. Holding their first one-man lives at Akasaka BLITZ and Zepp Tokyo in 2016, a renewed Akishibu project with 3 new members will be one of the groups to watch in 2017!

Mone and Chibo – Yurumerumo!

After a 2015 where Yurumerumo! seemed to be poised to break through to the next level, Mone and Chibo’s graduations due to creative differences prevented that momentum to fully carry over into 2016. However, their graduation live at Shin-Kiba Studio Coast on July 10th was an incredible 50-song performance which also introduced fans to the new 4-member formation via the fun yet heartbreaking MV for “Summer Bokan”. Chibo joined Let’s PocoPoco and now goes by the name Chino Chitose. Mone reappeared under the name Sui Hitohana with Hauptharmonie in late October.

Moe Usami, Mizuho Asakura, Ayano Yanagisawa, Kanra – BELLRING Girls Heart

Despite reaching new heights with concerts at Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo Dome City Hall, and Akasaka BLITZ, BELLRING Girls Heart suffered heavy losses in 2016 as well. Moe Usami left in February to find work, happily updating her fans in August that she had received an offer. In October Mizuho Asakura and Ayano Yanagisawa announced their graduations; Mizuho to follow a similar path as Moe and Ayano going solo. In December, Kanra was added to the list of graduates as she would be joining a new group (details unknown at the time).

yumi, ayaka, ami, mei – lyrical school

Adding former Rhymeberry member hime to replace hina who graduated in December of 2015 and making their major label debut on KING RECORDS with “RUN and RUN” with its innovative smartphone MV, lyrical school was on the rise. However, yumi officially parted ways with the group in September following an extended hiatus due to health issues. The graduation announcements of ami, ayaka, and mei right before their December 29th Zepp Diver City tour finale combined with no reasons given were even more perplexing.

Hug Mii – BiSH


Hug Mii, the “dangerous cougar” (abunai jukujo) of BiSH who seemed to personify the anything goes attitude of the group, was not able to show everything she had due to family circumstances which lead to her sudden graduation during their 2-man live with Shibusashirazu Orchestra at Akasaka BLITZ on June 2nd. Producer Junnosuke Watanabe took out a full page newspaper ad to announce it, according to him, the most expensive thing he has ever bought. With First Summer Uika having run into her in December, it looks like Hug Mii is doing well in her post-idol life as well.

Ao Shigusawa, Maaya Inukai – GANG PARADE

The ever-changing group lead by former BiS member Saki Kamiya underwent a name change before losing 2 of its members over the summer due to family issues. Ao was unable to gain the approval of her parents and left the group on the final day of Tokyo Idol Festival 2016. After a short hiatus, Maaya left on October 1st, citing her father’s health issues as her reason for leaving. With the addition of former Shibuya DOMINION member Maika Kyan and 3 former SiS members Yuka Terashima, Yui Ga Dokuson, and Coco Partin Coco, could 2017 bring some stability to the group?

Ayami Chercy Snow, Louise Sforzur, Alice Rozen, Love Berry Janne, Myuna Shulita – Afilia Saga

Ayami and Louise made their announcements in November of 2015, graduating the following March. Alice made a long and sudden apologetic blog post weeks before her final stage at @JAM x Natalie EXPO 2016. The graduation announcement of Myuna and Love came in November, their last event being on December 20th. Meanwhile, Yukafin Doll, who announced her graduation alongside Ayami and Louise, is still in Afilia Saga as of December 31, 2016.

Even worse than hiatus or graduation has to be disbandment and 2016 was full of bad news, with ℃-ute being the most devastating one. While some of the groups, like ℃-ute will make it into 2017 before taking their final bow, some are already gone.

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there was no way to cover every graduation, hiatus, and/or disbandment that happened or was announced in 2016. Remember that if you have a chance to see your favorite idol or artist, you should definitely go because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Sponsored Links

Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

comments powered by Disqus