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Kanon Suzuki’s Smile Sparkles During Graduation From Morning Musume.’16 at Nippon Budokan!

Kanon Suzuki’s Smile Sparkles During Graduation From Morning Musume.’16 at Nippon Budokan!

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Kanon Suzuki graduated from Morning Musume.’16 as “the happiest person in the world”, on May 31, 2016 at the Nippon Budokan “Morning Musume.’16 Concert Tour Haru 〜EMOTION IN MOTION〜Suzuki Kanon Sotugyou Special〜”. Her final moments were not just shared with the fans who came to see her off, but was also broadcast live to 24 theaters across Japan as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea and to all households with BS Sky Perfect (a Japanese cable channel).

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After the opening acts Tsubaki Factory (Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo) and Kobushi Factory (Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin), the lights in the Nippon Budokan dimmed, revealing the overwhelming glow of green penlights from every seat. Appearing one by one on the top level of the stage, Morning Musume.’16 took the stage as a 12-member unit for the last time. The intro of “One・Two・Three” rang out, getting the concert started. Massive flames shot out from the stage, raising the temperature in the venue literally as Morning Musume.’16 supplied the heat figuratively with their expressive choreography and strong vocals. Marching out to the smaller stage in the middle of the floor to “Ai no Gundan”, the members jabbed and swayed, moving in perfect synchronization. Following up with “Ren’ai Hunter”, there was a detour into the past with the Golden Era classic “Ren’ai Revolution 21”. Running out onto the catwalks extending from both sides of the main stage, they waved and smiled to the fans in on the second floor in between dancing the famous arm swinging choreography.

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The members left the stage for a quick costume change, returning seconds later in generationally color-coded pastel dresses and launching into “Tokyo to iu Katasumi”. Glistening with sweat from the ferocious 5-song start, Morning Musume.’16 paused to greet the fans and welcome them to the concert. Continuing with “The Vision”, the members moved gracefully about the stage. The cooler mood continued with “Subete wa Ai no Chikara” before things began heating back up with “Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai” and “Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai” before finally boiling over with another classic “Mr. Moonlight 〜Ai no Big Band〜” which featured Haruka Kudo, Erina Ikuta, and Maria Makino in Takarazuka-like soldier outfits.

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Hello! Project leader Maimi Yajima (°C-ute) made an appearance to present Kanon with a bouquet of flowers and read a letter that she had written for the occasion. Maimi described Kanon as being like a mascot to her due to her “healing personality”. Maimi remembered Kanon as standing out with her dazzling smile during the auditions and enjoyed watching her grow up over the past 5 years. The letter was overflowing with praise for Kanon’s smile and kindness but the biggest reaction came when Maimi reached the postscript which was an invitation to eat with her. Maimi had brought with her a letter written by Riho Sayashi, which explained how she was just one of many people who had been made to smile with the power of Kanon’s smile. Riho’s letter urged Kanon to do her best as she too was working at learning English and invited her to visit her overseas, ending with a challenge to do show her a lot of smiles during the rest of the concert.

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Breaking into units, Mizuki Fukumura, Haruka Kudo, and Sakura Oda appeared on the top floor of the stage for a soaring rendition of “Koe”. Mizuki and Erina were joined by Kanon for “Otome no Timing”. Haruna Iikubo, Makino Maria, Akane Haga, and Haruna Ogata switched places with Mizuki as the 6 members got funky during “YAH! Ai Shitai!”. Ayumi Ishida, Masaki Sato, and Miki Nonaka spiced up the mood with “Ai Shite Ai Shite Ato Ippun” to bring the unit songs to an end. After another quick costume change and short talk between Kanon, Mizuki, and Erina, the music continued with a rapid medley which included “Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru” and an impressive dance break during “Help me!” that featured the members wearing glow-in-the dark top hats and gloves. The medley roared on with “Souda! We’re Alive”, “Odore! Morning Curry”, and “OK YEAH!”, which was highlighted by towering plumes of fog shooting out of the stage. Another costume change, this time into glittering silver outfits accented by the member’s colors, brought another 5-song medley with acrobatic displays rom Erina and Ayumi during “The Matenrou Show” and “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke”. The combination of the pyrotechnics and the heat of the fans singing along loudly and sent kechas towards Mizuki as she sang her solo lines during “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke” was overpowering! Finishing up with “Mikan”, “What is LOVE?”, and the song that Kanon described as the song which was her beginning “Oh my wish!”, the main part of the concert came to an end. Nippon Budokan went dark except for the green glow of thousands of penlights and cyalumes, joined by thousands of voices calling for her to return. Many fans had signs thanking her for their many treasured memories and congratulating her on her graduation.

Returning to the stage in a gown covered with sunflowers, Kanon read her graduation letter as the entire arena listened in silence. Making her way down the catwalk to the stage in the middle of the floor, she sang “Never Forget”, surrounded by the green lights. Returning to the main stage and flashing a smile at the end of the song, Kanon stood at center stage and the rest of Morning Musume.’16 lined up to deliver their parting messages to her.

Akane Haga shared how happy she was when Kanon praised her smile and how she would work hard to not lose to her in cheerfulness.

Maria Makino broke into tears as soon as she began talking, expressing her gratitude for Kanon making her feel welcome and assuring her that it was okay for Morning Musume.to have more than one member from Aichi in the group. The latter comment causing Kanon to laugh at such a notion.

Miki Nonaka described Kanon as a motherly figure who helped her get over the anxiety of her first concert and was always there to support her.

Haruna Ogata thanked Kanon for helping with her birthday event and saving her with her bright personality and smile, moving Haruna to declare that she would take over that role for others.

Sakura Oda expressed her deep gratitude to Kanon for being there whenever she needed someone to listen to her.

Haruka Kudo’s voice was shaky as she described every day together as fun before lightening the mood by letting it slip that Kanon had a talent for off-color humor. She described “Oh my wish!”, the song where they were the double center members as her treasure, and assured Kanon that she would be doing her best.

Masaki Sato’s message to Kanon was by far the longest and most humorous, Masaki admitted that because Kanon would always get angry with her, her first thoughts on hearing about the graduation were of relief because it meant that Kanon wouldn’t get angry with her any more. Explaining in great detail how she broke Kanon’s computer, Masaki thought it was strange that she didn’t get angry about that but would always scold her about getting choreography wrong. Her winding talk coming to an end and her nervous laughter turning to tears, Masaki invited Kanon to come to her home for a meal before congratulating her on her graduation and running into her arms.

Ayumi Ishida, who claimed Kanon as the first sempai that she got along with, felt extremely grateful for learning the power of smiling from her.

Haruna Iikubo admitted that there had been a wall between the two of them from when she had joined the group but expressed her sadness that they would no longer see each other every day and hoped that they could continue to see each other before cautiously moving in for a hug.

Erina Ikuta recalled how during the auditions she felt that Kanon would definitely pass since she was so cute and might have come off as a little scary. Mentioning how conflicts between them became things they could look back and laugh about and were part of them warming up to each other. Ending with an awkward proposal that they continue to be friends, Erina extended an invitation of yakiniku to Kanon and patted her on the head.

Mizuki Fukumura handed Kanon a bouquet of sunflowers, sniffling a she began to talk, crying into Kanon’s shoulder before she continued. Mizuki expressed her gratitude for Kanon reassuring her that it was okay to be a leader in her own way. Even though she knew that there was no time as the graduation approached, it finally hit her on the night before the concert. Vowing that she would be doing her best and cheering for Kanon’s success, Mizuki congratulated her and the two hugged again.

Citing that her smile was he greatest charm, Kanon asked the audience to smile, sing, and dance with her until the very end. Putting down her bouquet, she joined the rest of the group for “Utakata Saturday Night!”. A cloth that looked like Kanon’s DJ booth from the MV was held up in front of her for a quick outfit change, accented by an explosion of gold and silver streamers. Attempting to sum up her feelings of the evening, Kanon declared that she was so happy that she could graduate with no regrets.

Closing out the encore and the chapter on the 12-member lineup of Morning Musume.’16 came to an end with “Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT”. Green heart-shaped balloons floated down from the ceiling as the members took their way around the massive stage for the last time, wiping tears from their eyes. Raising their hands high and taking a bow, the members left the stage. After a few more minutes of fans calling out and waving their green lights, Kanon returned, yelling “Daisuki!” before saying her final “Arigatou” and ending her 1,976 days as a member of Morning Musume.’16.


Set List

01 One・Two・Three (updated)
02 Ai no Gundan
03 Ren’ai Hunter (updated)
04 Ren’ai Revolution 21 (updated)
05 Tokyo to iu Katasumi
06 The Vision
07 Subete wa Ai no Chikara
08 Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai
09 Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai
10 Mr. Moonlight 〜Ai no Big Band〜-
11 Koe
12 Otome no Timing
13 YAH! Ai Shitai!
14 Ai Shite Ai Shite Ato Ippun
15 Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru
16 Help me! (updated)
17 Souda! We’re Alive (updated)
18 Odore! Morning Curry
19 OK YEAH!
20 The Matenrou Show
21 Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai
22 Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke
23 Mikan
24 What is LOVE?
25 Oh my wish!

E1 Never Forget
E2 Utakata Saturday Night!
E3 Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT


Related links

Morning Musume.’16 Official site: http://www.helloproject.com/morningmusume/
Morning Musume.’16 Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorningMusumeMg
Morning Musume.’16 Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Morningmusume.Official
Morning Musume.’16 Official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/morningmusumechannel

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Author
Kai Okudara
Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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