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When Idols Suddenly Retire One Day to Get Married

ある日突然、アイドルが結婚のために引退するという発表を聞くことがある
When Idols Suddenly Retire One Day to Get Married

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Held on May 22, 2017, the theme of Showa Idol Archives vol.9 was Mako Ishino. Born from Nippon TV’s Star Tanjou!, and with a snaggletooth as her signature characteristic, she was your typical idol. Although Ishino currently works as an actress, when she declared her relationship with Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi in June of 1981, in light of her marriage, she temporarily retired from the entertainment industry the following September.

At the time, Mako Ishino was just 20 years old, and at the height of her career. At the end of the previous year she had performed on the year-end special, Kohaku Uta Gassen, and was a presenter on Star Tanjou!, the same program that had been her claim to fame.

At Showa Idol Archives vol. 9, Mikio Takashima, who was a fan of her, talked about his feelings at the time, but I’ll include his comments again below:

“I didn’t have enough money to go see her retirement concert held at Shibuya Kokaido in August of 1981, so recorded the live broadcast of it on Nippon TV. However, the broadcast ended without showing the encore. Not being able to see the very last of Mako-chan, I sank in front of the TV. For a while after that, her singles were re-released with special “Retirement Commemoration! Happy Wedding!!” jackets, and I was completely heartbroken. Even products were confronting me with the reality that my favorite idol was getting married. (smiles bitterly)”

When an idol you loved announces her marriage as well as her sudden retirement… From a fan’s perspective, it’s not something that can be genuinely celebrated. What seems like a final blow comes in the form of post-retirement single releases with jackets, with the words “Watashi no Shiawase Part II” or “Retirement Commemoration! Happy Wedding!!” on them. It’s a tough situation.

onko-chishin-ishino-mako-02

Watashi no Shiawase PART II! was Mako Ishino’s 17th single. It was released on December 20, 1981. It was released three months after her retirement from the entertainment industry, and under the lyric and composition credits, Mako Ishino’s name is the only one listed. The jacket features the words, “Retirement Commemoration! Happy Wedding!!”/『私のしあわせ パートII』は、石野真子通算17枚目のシングル。1981年12月20日発売。芸能界引退後から3カ月が過ぎたころに発売されたシングルで、作詞・作曲はともにシングルで唯一の石野真子個人名義。ジャケットには「引退記念! 祝 結婚!!」の文字が入っている

To be honest, cases where idols retire because they’re getting married is not at all uncommon. Like Mako Ishino, Momoe Yamaguchi, also born from Star Tanjou!, is another one of these cases. Following her relationship announcement with actor Tomokazu Miura, she announced her retirement at the same time as her engagement, and on October 5, 1980, her final concert was held at Nippon Budokan. The final scene of her silhouette as she leaves her microphone behind at the center of the stage and walks away is famous and considered legendary.

However, Momoe Yamaguchi was considered a national singer, and from an idol’s perspective, it’s difficult to evaluate the psychological state of her fans.

Particularly complicated for fans was the marriage and retirement of Mamiko Takai from Onyanko Club. A popular member who was active in the group from 1985, she made her record debut with Yukiko (Yuuyu) Iwai as part of a duo called Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi. After that she made her solo debut, and her debut song ranked first on the Oricon debut charts. Until she graduated from Onyanko Club in April of 1987, she remained a member who was at the forefront of the group.

Then in April, a year after she graduated from Onyanko Club, she held a commemorative fan club launch concert, only to announce her marriage to Yasushi Akimoto, the producer in charge of writing Onyanko Club’s songs and lyrics, a month later. Then, just like that, she retired from the entertainment industry.

As you know, her husband, Yasushi Akimoto, is the producer behind the AKB48 groups.

At the time Onyanko Club wasn’t my favorite group, but even then the news came as quite a shock. In many cases, because these scandals happened between celebrities, it was likely that you’d first get wind of rumors from Shashin Shukanshi (a photo tabloid magazine) and the like. During this period there were so many scandalous pictures floating around that the buzzword “focus sareru” (“focus on”) was born. Now, it would be similar to Bunshunho. Among all of this, what stood out the most was this very urgent announcement.

Taking into consideration that it was a marriage and retirement announcement with an “insider”, and that the fan club had just been launched, it’s no wonder that several fans were angry and that Akimoto underwent quite a lot of bashing.

Because of this, among fans who have been keeping up with idols all this time since, there are some who think, “AKB48 is just a little too much…” and shun them.

An interview with Makiko Takai and Yasushi Akimoto was published in the August 1986 edition of the magazine BOMB! It was an interview about her enlistment into Onyanko Club, published before their marriage announcement. With a headline that suspiciously reads, “I want to fall in love with someone and run away together,” the two run off to the United States immediately after their marriage. In the interview, Takai introduces Akimoto as “being like an older brother to her”, and the two of them discuss their views on marriage./高井麻巳子さんと秋元康氏とのインタビューが掲載されている、雑誌「BOMB! 1986年8月号」。2人の結婚が発表される前、おニャン子クラブ在籍時のインタビューだ。「好きな人と一緒に逃げるような恋がしたいの」という見出しに合わせたわけではないだろうが、2人は結婚後すぐに渡米する。インタビュー内で秋元氏は「お兄ちゃんのような存在」として紹介されており、2人は「結婚観」についても話をしている

An interview with Makiko Takai and Yasushi Akimoto was published in the August 1986 edition of the magazine BOMB! It was an interview about her enlistment into Onyanko Club, published before their marriage announcement. With a headline that suspiciously reads, “I want to fall in love with someone and run away together,” the two run off to the United States immediately after their marriage. In the interview, Takai introduces Akimoto as “being like an older brother to her”, and the two of them discuss their views on marriage./高井麻巳子さんと秋元康氏とのインタビューが掲載されている、雑誌「BOMB! 1986年8月号」。2人の結婚が発表される前、おニャン子クラブ在籍時のインタビューだ。「好きな人と一緒に逃げるような恋がしたいの」という見出しに合わせたわけではないだろうが、2人は結婚後すぐに渡米する。インタビュー内で秋元氏は「お兄ちゃんのような存在」として紹介されており、2人は「結婚観」についても話をしている

Naturally, idols will eventually get married and I don’t have anything against that. I just believe that it would be better to show some kind of consideration toward fans. Those who have been idol fans since the 80s or 90s have likely experienced their favorite idol getting married. However, I usually think their feels are akin to “That’s not surprising” or “It’s about time”. They accept it as part of a single woman’s growth. On the other hand, even if you didn’t already consider that idol to be your favorite at the time of her marriage, there are still a number of things to reflect back on and consider.

By reflecting on these experiences, I believe that fan spirit grows stronger. People who were idol fans back then or are idol fans now increasingly accept their favorite idol’s marriage or relationships.

Or what I mean to say is, since at least 2000, there have been marriage announcements the day before a bus tour, or soon after talks with wedding venue and ceremony general information magazine Zexy, there have been hard-hitting announcements about pregnancy and retirement.

I have no doubt that there will be many more tall walls that fans will need to overcome.

Translated by Jamie Koide

Next Showa Idol Archives Event on June 26th!

Shōwa Idol Archives Bursts into Shibuya with Special Event! Former Onyanko Members to Appear!

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Author
Toshiro Arai
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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