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End of an Era: Sayumi Michishige’s Graduation from Morning Musume。

End of an Era: Sayumi Michishige’s Graduation from Morning Musume。

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On November 26th at Yokohama Arena, Morning Musume。 ’14 held the final concert of their autumn tour “Morning Musume。 ’14 Concert Tour Aki~ GIVE ME MORE LOVE~ Michishige Sayumi Sotsugyou Kinen Special” and bid farewell to their leader Sayumi Michishige.

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Morning Musume。, the group which lead the way for the current era known as the “Idol Sengoku Jidai” (Idol Warring States Period), parted with their longest tenured member Sayumi Michishige in front of a sold-out audience. Yokohama Arena glowed pink with pink penlights and shirts, the chants deafening as Michishige marched her group on stage for the final time before jumping into “TIKI BUN”. They then removed their jackets as they continued with “Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke”, jogging back to the main stage while riling up the audience with enthusiastic shouts.

After “What is LOVE?” the arena went dark and an intro video showing Michishige sitting on a couch reading a book and being joined by the other members who appeared onscreen one by one. It was an emotional scene showing her role as a leader and older sister of the group, having watched over Morning Musume。 as they experienced resurgence in popularity.

As with all the previous stops on the fall tour, the 12th generation members were brought on stage to greet the audience. Michishige then announced that Mizuki Fukumura would be the new leader of the group and that Haruna Iikubo and Erina Ikuta would be the sub-leaders. Fukumura and Iikubo commented seriously on their new positions but, Ikuta joked, “Everyone must be thinking this is a lie but, this is reality!” following up with, “I want to make a Morning Musume. that you can’t even imagine!”

Following a 9-member rendition of “I WISH” and a video of the members acting silly during rehearsals leading up to the concert, Michishige appeared on stage to perform her solo song ” Shaba Daba Doo~”, waving cheerfully to the audience and even flagging down one of the cameramen for a close-up. First generation leader Yuko Nakazawa, new leader of Hello Project Maimi Yazawa (°C-ute), and fellow 6th generation member Reina Tanaka (LovendoЯ) presented Michishige with congratulatory bouquets. When Nakazawa commented on how cute she was Michishige replied that she had been saving up all her cuteness just for that day.

Despite suffering an injury and visibly limping during the medley, Michichige, pulled herself together and smiled cutely as it transitioned into ” LaLaLa no PiPiPi” a song specially written for her from Morning Musume’s 13th album (⑬ Colorful Character). Even though she was trying her best to dance along with the other members as they ran to the stage in the middle of the arena floor, it was a bit heartbreaking to see Michishige standing all by herself on the main stage.

Newly appointed leader Fukumura dashed over to Sayumi’s side to sing their duet “Suki da na Kimi ga” which seemed to give her enough strength to persevere until she could be helped offstage discretely during the transition between ” Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa no Honki de Negatterundayo!” and “Seishun Collection”. Within mere moments, Michishige was back onstage, sitting on the steps during “LOVE Machine” and rising to her feet to deliver Rika Ishikawa’s passionate line from “Shabondama”, the song that began her career as an idol in 2003. Michishige seemed to get stronger as the concert went on, even keeping up with the demanding choreography of “Password is 0” before tears began welling up in her eyes during the final song “Be Alive”.

After several minutes of fans loudly chanting “Sayumi!” and waving their pink penlights in the darkness of Yokohama Arena, the members of Morning Musume。 (including the 12th generation) appeared on stage in white dresses to pay tribute to their departing leader with “Mikaeri Bijin”. Dressed in the kimono from the music video for the song, Michishige walked down the walkway slowly, taking in the sight of the glowing pink lights and the members of her beloved Morning Musume.

As expected, the graduation ceremony was filled with emotional declarations of love and admiration, as well as the sharing of treasured memories of Michishige’s tenure in Morning Musume. Ayumi Ishida pleaded with Michishige to smile as she choked back tears of her own. Leader Fukumura shared, “the happiest times were when I could sing with Michishige-san and now that there will no longer be someone to sing with, it’ll get lonely but, thanks to being able to sing alongside you, I feel that I’ve grown up.”

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Returning in a dress covered in flowers she explained that the only reason she auditioned for Morning Musume。was because she liked the group and it was the main reason she was able to keep going for all those years. She joked that many of her fans were weird for liking an idol that was bad at singing and dancing, even though she was cute but thanked them warmly for everything they had done for her. Singing “Akai Freesia” solo, she was rejoined by the other members of the group for “Aruiteru” on the arena floor center stage.

The final song sung by “Morning Musume。’s Sayumi Michishige” and the 10-member incarnation of the group was “Happy Daisakusen”. After one last walk around the arena thanking the audience, a video similar to the one from the intro played on the screens, this time with the members leaving in the order that they appeared with Michishige leaving the book on the couch, the cover reading “Mo 4329 days (2003.01.19~2014.11.26) sayumi michishige MORNING MUSUME。” acknowledging her history with the group.

Setlist
1. TIKI BUN
2. Wagamama Ki no mama Ai no Joke
3. What is LOVE?
4. Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe
5. Do it! Now
6. Ashita wo Tsukuru no wa Kimi
7. Fantasy ga Hajimaru
8. I WISH
9. Shaba Daba Doo~
10. Egao no Kimi wa Taiyo sa
11. Kare to Isshoni Omise ga Shitai!
12. Silver no Ude Dokei
13. Help me!!
14. Ren’ai Revolution 21
15. Ren’ai Hunter
16. LaLaLa no PiPiPi
17. ABCD E-cha E-cha Shitai
18. Wakuteka Take a Chance
19. Brainstorming
20. Suki da na Kimi ga
21. Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa no Honki de Negatterundayo!
22. Seishun Collection
23. LOVE Machine
24. Give me Love
25. Shabondama
26. One・Two・Three
27. Password is 0
28. Be Alive

Encore
Mikaeri Bijin

Graduation Ceremony
Akai Feesia
Aruiteru
Happy Daisakusen

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Related Artists : Morning Musume.’15
Author
Kai Okudara
Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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